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.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The NRA's logic is unraveling

After 12/14, the NRA lobbyists and leaders have had a bit of a tough time with their messaging. We know why. The messaging has been flawed for many years now. But they seem to have forgotten that in the year 2013, it's easy to debunk their message because so many people are now watching. As soon as the NRA decided to jump in with the gun industry, everything changed for the organization. (This great new article (linded above) from Rolling Stone is long and deserves a lot more attention actually.) It is no longer a sportsmans' organization. In fact, some of their advocates now claim that the Second Amendment is not about hunting at all. It's about owning and bearing guns for protection against the tyranny of a government gone wrong. They used to say it was about hunting and protecting their right to do so. The organization used to be about that very thing, in fact. (See above linked article) One could get whiplash trying to follow the flawed logic and arguments.

They loved the Heller decision when the interpretation was changed from the long held view that it was written to make sure a militia could be armed in case of war against another country or within the country to a right to have a gun in the home for self protection. But some were not happy with that version apparently because now they are screaming about needing assault rifles to defend their homes and to collect to use in a treasonous act of insurrection against the "jack booted government thugs." (If you don't believe the insurrection stuff, check this out for proof) Flip flopping seems pretty common these days. See my last post showing Wayne LaPierre saying two polar opposite things about gun background checks. You can't have it both ways. But when public opinion is now saying that the people are behind reasonable gun laws, the NRA lobbyists have pronounced in many places that surely the government ( whoever that is) is coming for their guns. Several much needed and long overdue measures to keep people who shouldn't have guns from getting them has sent them over the edge. I say over the edge is where they belong if they can't even compromise about something that will save lives and something even their own members want in large numbers.

So it's getting harder for the NRA lobbyists to square their message with the public who is not buying it. Not after 20 small children were laid to rest last December in Newtown, Connecticut after being massacred by someone who shouldn't have had a gun. Not only that, Adam Lanza had an AR-15 military style weapon and several other guns with high capacity magazines. The pubic is aware of these weapons of mass destruction designed to kill as many people as possible with as much destruction as possible in as little time as possible. The public doesn't like them. There isn't quite as much agreement about restricting these sorts of guns as there is with other measures to prevent gun violence. But there is strong support for an assault weapons ban nonetheless. Even Texans want one!! Background checks for all sales, for example, has so much public support that our leaders can no longer ignore the issue and will have to take action or be held accountable by people who want some action.

So during the time since 12/14 there have been the usual number of gun deaths which some members of the media are now tracking. It is an inconvenient truth for the NRA lobbyists when too many people are shot to death daily. Never mind, though, the leaders of the organization still insist that no "gun control" measure will work. They can't prove that, of course. They just love to say it and if they say it it must be so. They also say that law abiding citizens will be safer when and if they are armed in every public place. This fear and paranoia comes straight from the NRA and from gun bloggers like Robert Farago and others who make their living by scaring people into believing there are people out to get them every where they go. This article in the Washington Post reveals the paranoia felt by these folks. It's a long article but let's take a look at just a bit from it and then you can read the rest:
“Once you put a gun on, you gain situational awareness,” he says. After he bought his first gun, he says, “I felt grown up. It was like a coming-of-age thing. I felt like an adult.”
Farago talks of the visceral pleasure of firing a gun. There is the moment before, and the moment after. Time slows. It almost stops.
“It’s a Zen thing,” he says. “You can control time down to that 1/1,000th of a second.”
But there are other visceral emotions in New England these days. There’s horror. There’s revulsion. There’s gut-churning pain. No one can talk about guns, not even the gun rights people, without reference to what happened in December in Newtown, Conn. This past week, parents of slain first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School testified in gun-control hearings at the State Capitol in Connecticut. One mother said of her slain son, “He lies forever motionless in the earth.”
New York state has already tightened its ban on assault weapons and limited ammunition magazines to seven rounds. Just a couple of miles from Farago’s house, the Rhode Island legislature is considering gun-control laws just as tight as those in New York.
Farago wants to move to Texas, which is more gun-friendly than Rhode Island. But in the meantime, his blog is going gangbusters. Page views have spiked since the massacre in Newtown and the resulting push for gun control.
There’s a run across the country on ammo, and on military-style semiautomatic rifles. The gun rights advocates have long feared that the government would come after their firearms. They’re in the fight of their lives. They’re geared up, on high alert and situationally aware.
Farago, 53, lives in an elegant house on the east side of town. He drives a Mercedes. He’s got an exquisite art collection. He has beautiful Persian rugs. Before he takes his miniature schnauzers on a walk in his upscale neighborhood, he fits them with doggie parkas.
His parents were major art benefactors, and his mother donated a huge collection of works to a fine arts museum in Boston. She’s a liberal who doesn’t like his new interest in guns and won’t let him discuss the subject at family gatherings. He says his father, who died three years ago, cherished his Second Amendment rights, but now Rob is the only gun person in his family. (...) 
Sitting in his living room with Farago looking on, Kenik shows off a couple of his black rifles. Farago generally defers to Kenik’s expertise on technical firearms issues. They’re something of an odd couple: Farago is tall, mild-mannered, bespectacled, and with his gun on his hip could pass for a plainclothes detective. Kenik is short, round and intense, prone to emphatic declarations.
Both are Jewish, and both lost grandparents in the Holocaust — surely a source, Farago says, of their wariness of government. Farago says he feels betrayed and abandoned by fellow Jews who favor gun control.
Democratic lawmakers reintroduced a bill that would ban nearly 160 military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
“Because of all the people on the face of the Earth who should be pro-gun, the Jews should be right at the top of that list,” he says. “How many Jews have to die before they realize that ‘never again’ means being prepared — personally prepared?”
Kenik carries two pistols, one for each hand, both concealed. Like Farago, Kenik has never had to use guns in self-defense. Few states have a lower crime rate than Rhode Island, and he lives in one of the most bucolic parts of the state. But he says armed robbers hit the convenience store nearby a couple of years ago.
Kenik is more strident than Farago and says he believes the ultimate goal of gun-control advocates is to eliminate private ownership of firearms. He got his first pellet gun at 13 and started carrying a revolver at 18. Only in the past 10 years has he become an absolutist about gun rights.
“We have sheep and we have sheepdogs. Robert and I are sheepdogs,” Kenik says. “Getting rid of the sheepdogs will not get rid of the wolves.”
He’s not a gunslinger looking for a shootout: “I don’t carry a gun to get into a gunfight. I carry a gun to get out of a gunfight.”
But he’s prepared for what might happen at any moment. A truism among gun people is that when seconds matter, the police are only minutes away.
“If someone kicks in my front door, I’m the first responder,” Kenik says. (...) 
“ ‘High capacity’ is a term created by the gun grabbers,” Kenik says. “Just like ‘assault weapons.’ ”
Democratic lawmakers reintroduced a bill that would ban nearly 160 military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Farago suggests that Kenik avoid the “gun grabbers” term.
“We call them ‘proponents of civilian disarmament,’ ” Farago says.
A couple of hours later, the two men dig into dinner at a swank Italian restaurant, both of them choosing chairs that let them face the entrance.
“Look at the way Robert and I are facing,” Kenik says. “Crime happens everywhere. There’s no place to feel safe.”
“That’s your opinion,” Farago says, distancing himself a bit.
“It’s in the back of my mind,” Kenik says.
So there you are. The life of every day gun owners. Or is it? Do these two represent what most gun owners believe? I say no. Not by polling numbers and the hunters and gun owners who have gone public with their support of reasonable gun laws. And then let's talk a little about Wayne LaPierre's name calling of those who have armed guards ( except for him) and who want to do something about gun violence being elitists. I wonder what we would call the two men in the above article if not armed elitists? They seem to be living in a world of their own and living quite well compared to average Americans. Hypocrisy is never pretty. There's a lot in the above article about the gun culture to digest. You will find it an interesting glimpse into the world of the gun rights extremists.

But I digress. I really wanted to talk about the problem with the logic of the NRA lobbyists and leaders. It was on full display, unfortunately, this past week-end. A blog post from New Trajectory caught the irony when he wrote this post. The blogger writes about a shooting incident that calls the NRA's arguments into question. This was about the tragic shooting of a U.S. Navy SEAL sharp shooter. Let's take a look here:
Saturday, the U.S. military's most deadly sniper, Chief Chris Kyle, was fatally shot, along with another man, by another veteran who was suffering from PTSD, at a gun range in Texas (wait, aren't gun ranges supposed to be havens of safe and responsible gun handling?).
As always, I offer sympathies for any victims of gun violence. But this one does beg for some discussion. Two things. The marine was a gun enthusiast, marksman, well armed and yet was killed. Second, he was killed by a friend with PTSD. Third, he was killed at a gun range. Any more questions? You can read more in the blog post.

But here is the second incident I want to talk about. A man who should have been considered to be dangerously mentally ill got a gun anyway and shot his mother. From the Walmart shootings blog:
Back in November, 2012, a known schizophrenic man who hears voices and, according to the police, is "obviously mentally ill" was nonetheless able to purchase rifles from a Walmart in Moore, Oklahoma, and a handgun from another store, and then shot his mother.  He then dismembered her.

With an angelic face like that, who could possibly refuse a gun sale?

After an 11-hour standoff with police, he was arrested.  Police then removed numerous weapons from the home and found his mother's body parts, and a dead cat, in the freezer.
Yikes!! This is so gruesome. How did this guy get a gun anyway? From the blog post- " Despite being "obviously" mentally ill, he was still able to purchase his weapon from Walmart, in part because Oklahoma does not report mentally ill people to the NICS gun purchase background system." 

Big Oops. More from an article about the incident contained within the blog post:
Nelson said Hume bought rifles Sept. 25 at the Walmart in Moore. He said Hume bought a Glock handgun the next day at Gun World. 
In Oklahoma, mental health records are not routinely sent to the federal database used to screen potential gun buyers, Nelson said. Most other states fall into the same category. 
“He lied on the application like everybody else does,” Nelson said. “With the state not reporting to that network, they're not going to find anything, even if he had been involuntarily committed. Because we're one of the states that doesn't normally report.”
A report released in late 2011 by the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that Oklahoma had sent just two mental health records to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is commonly referred to as NICS. 
Most of the states in U.S. have reported fewer than 1,000 records. A handful of states, including Texas and California, are responsible for the bulk of the mental health records that have been shared since NICS was launched in the 1990s. 
“You can be just as crazy as the day is long, but if police haven't made contact with you to commit you … you're not going to be in that system,” Nelson said. “There's a lot of people out there taking medication that won't show up on a background check as … having a mental illness because police haven't contacted them, because of their mental illness.”
Any questions? Where is common sense when you need it? These are inconvenient facts.  It's always inconvenient when someone is shot by a dangerously mentally ill person who should not have had a gun in the first place. We have a lot of work to do to strengthen our gun laws so we can stop the easy access to guns by people who shouldn't have them. Lives could be saved. It's also inconvenient when a man known for his skill with guns and known to be a gun enthusiast is killed anyway by someone who should not have had a gun. It was bad judgement to take a friend with PTSD to a gun range where loaded guns are around for all who are there. Law abiding citizens sometimes make bad judgement calls when guns are around. The newspapers all over the country are littered with stories about the results. Accidental shootings from the Ohh Shoot blog; kids shooting themselves or others when they shouldn't have a gun but get one anyway mostly from their law abiding parents as we see on the Kid Shootings blog; domestic shootings when someone with no previous record but maybe a restraining order, goes temporarily nuts and shoots someone in anger over a separation or divorce. I know about that one from personal experience.

The thing is, guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill people or animals. That is why we need to do as much as possible to keep them away from people who shouldn't have them; to keep them from being stolen; to make sure background checks accompany all sales; to keep guns designed for military use with the military; to keep citizens from using gun magazines of over 10 bullets; to make sure we do proper and intellectual research into the causes and effects of gun violence; to make sure the ATF and law enforcement have the tools they need to keep us safer; to make sure people who choose to have guns for self defense use them only for that and only extremely rarely; to change the culture so that Americans don't feel so afraid that they are convinced they must be armed; to keep guns out of public places where they don't belong and more. Americans have had enough and are tired of the denial and lack of action. Too many people are dying every day in senseless shootings. We are better than this as a country. Let's get to work.


My readers may want to see this article from The Atlantic that pretty much mirrors what I just wrote:
However, in recent years, the belief in widespread gun ownership as a defense against tyrannical government has become an alluring idea, gaining traction with members of Congress as well as fringe conspiracy theorists. As Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma put it just last week, "The Second Amendment wasn't written so you can go hunting, it was to create a force to balance a tyrannical force here." And if this is insufficiently incendiary, one only need look to the doctrine of the "Three Percenters," with its ominous warning that "all politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war."
It is easy to ridicule such rhetoric as just overindulgence in Red Dawn fantasies about resourceful and brave citizens resisting a modern army with nothing more than small arms and their wits. Even individual Americans armed with military-style assault rifles could hardly pose any serious resistance to any future tyrannical central government supported by overwhelmingly powerful military capabilities. But many otherwise sensible people seem willing to concede that gun ownership could one day play some role in preserving democracy. Just this month, a Rasmussen poll reported that 65 percent of Americans see gun rights as a protection against tyranny.
There are two primary pillars to this shaky intellectual edifice. The first is a cottage industry of academics and lawyers who have scoured ancient political tracts and common law to establish that in the distant English past that there was a constitutional right to bear arms as a defense against tyranny. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has given some credence to this view: In his majority opinion for Heller, he asserted that "the Stuart Kings Charles II and James II succeeded in using select militias loyal to them to suppress political dissidents, in part by disarming their opponents." This line of reasoning ignores the fact that, in 21st century America, the prospect of monarchs and their select militias oppressing the populace is reasonably remote. It also ignores the fact that the common law evolves and is subordinate to acts of the legislature. Other nations built on English common law have all enacted strict regulation of gun ownership, with no perceptible diminution of political liberties.
The second pillar has fewer scholarly pretensions, but it employs even more historically dubious arguments. It suggests, for example, that the Holocaust could have been avoided if Germany's miniscule Jewish population had been better armed. It also argues that Ukrainian peasants could have defeated the Stalinist regime, backed by the NKVD and the Red Army, if they had possessed individual firearms. But these counterfactual interpretations of history are wildly speculative -- and downright implausible.
To understand how misguided these kinds of arguments truly are, it's best to begin where their adherents generally do: the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Any comparison between the American revolutionaries and today's would-be freedom fighters is seriously flawed. Eighteenth century colonial society was dramatically less organized than 21st century America. The Minutemen and other colonial militias were formed by farmers and tradesmen who possessed individual firearms. But they were organized into disciplined companies under the authority of the Massachusetts Provisional Congress, the successor to a legally established provincial assembly. Even though the British had abrogated its charter, the structure of the assembly still remained.
In other words, when these militias assembled in Lexington and Concord to resist British troops, they were subject to formal lines of command and control under a legitimate authority, and they had the broad support of their political communities. Colonial Massachusetts also enjoyed a degree of social cohesion and agreement on basic political principles far greater than we have in 21st century America.
Despite the colonial victory at Concord, the Minutemen and other local militias played a minor role in the eventual American defeat of King George III. The decisive factors in America's War of Independence were the battlefield victories of organized colonial armies acting under the authority of the Continental Congress and state-organized militias. The financial and military support of America's European allies also played a crucial role. (...) So a citizen uprising at any point in the foreseeable future would probably not involve like-minded constitutionalists taking up arms to defend democracy and liberty. It would more likely be a matter of one aggrieved social group attacking another. And for the most criminal and vicious members of society, the rationale of "protecting" their own rights would be a convenient justification for straight-up looting, robbery, and bloodshed.

There may never be a time when all the people in this country embrace one another as true Americans or accept the authority of their political leadership. Which may be part of the country's boisterous -- if sometimes overly enthusiastic and even paranoid -- democratic tradition. But as we debate the role of firearms in our society, it makes no sense to be sidetracked by the impossible and dangerous idea that a heavily armed citizenry is the ultimate safeguard of liberty in America.
There's much more here to read of interest.


I suggest to my readers who believe what I wrote above and what others have written who, like me, don't believe in the insurrectionist view of the Second Amendment, to read this new article by Josh Horwitz of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:
During a hearing in which Republican Senators actively tried to portray assault weapons as merely "scary-looking" pieces of plastic with no real functional purpose, LaPierre's statement revealed that they are in fact weapons of choice for individuals ready to wage war on our government. This was certainly not the first time LaPierre had made such a declaration--remember, this is the guy who told us "the guys with the guns make the rules" at a CPAC conference--but his statement on Wednesday was nonetheless remarkable because it so clearly articulated the Insurrectionist Idea on a national stage, liking it directly to the need for unfettered access to assault weapons. Now, no doubt remains about the type of "firepower" citizens would need in order to fight LaPierre's "tyranny" ... The same type of firepower that Adam Lanza used to kill 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary. (...) 
A cosmetically different version of Grandpa's hunting rifle? I don't think so. A vigorous public debate over the true purpose of assault weapons is one that the gun lobby wants to avoid at all costs. Such a debate would belie their claim that AR-15s are "modern sporting rifles" with no military application whatsoever and invigorates the push for a renewal of the assault weapons ban. Once average Americans understand the interplay between the militarization of civilian weaponry and the gun lobby's devotion to insurrectionist rhetoric, the gig is up for Wayne & Co.
That awakening is happening before our eyes, in large part because President Obama has begun to speak out strongly about how the NRA's radical reading of the Second Amendment threatens other basic American freedoms. ....
Horwitz quotes from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of last week and comments made by President Obama to make his point that the Second Amendment has become, for the most extreme of the gun rights folks, a call to arms for those who believe they will need to fight their own government. This is something of concern for all Americans and should be a serious part of our current discussion. It is vital that we come to an understanding of what the NRA lobbyists are telling their members in order to get them to be against any reasonable measures to save the lives of innocent Americans and leave us all free from gun violence in our communities.

1 comment:

  1. That post at New Trajectory is getting thousands of hits, mainly from pro-gun forums where the readers are incensed by someone daring to call into question the actions and death of a famed sniper and veteran.

    But the point remains: anyone with severe PTSD, as the shooter, should not have a gun and shouldn't be taken to a shooting range. Chief Kyle was apparently the guy's mentor, so it was a dumb move on his part. Doubtless, like the pro-gunners who are angered by the post, Kyle was so immersed in his gun culture that he failed to see the danger. To him, like them, a gun is just "an inanimate object" with no innate dangerous qualities. They don't think about the danger of it getting into the wrong hands... again.

    The other point is that Kyle, who was better-trained than just about anyone else in the world, was himself an expert firearms trainer, and had killed hundreds of "bad guys with guns" couldn't defend himself from someone right next to him, even with a gun in his hand. If he couldn't defend himself, who can?