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.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The sky is falling!

So, where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about the disconnect between the rhetoric of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and the broken hearts of parents and others after losing a loved one to a bullet(s). And it just keeps coming. The shootings continue unabated. The increasingly angry, paranoid, fear-laced and anti-government, anti-Obama rhetoric does too. Which should be more important to us moving forward? Raise your hand if you think saving a life is a good idea. Raise your hand if you think the government is or will be coming for your guns. That seems to be the two choices here with nothing in between. Obviously saving lives comes out on top as a priority and a necessity. You would think that is a middle ground at the least. It's a non-partisan common sense place to have the discussion. But since the Sandy Hook school shooting, saving lives has gone to the bottom of the NRA lobbyists list of priorities. What has emerged is a frightening and anarchistic view of a minority of folks who for too long have been hiding under the cover of gun rights and the second amendment. Not any more. The more the public is resolved to do something about shootings, the more the NRA lobbyists and leaders dig in their heels. The once held position of the NRA in favor of background checks on ALL gun sales has morphed into total resistance to doing the same. Why? If President Obama wants something, the NRA doesn't. If President Obama says the sky is falling, the NRA would dispute it. If President Obama says so, it has to be wrong. But let's look at some facts ( which the NRA rarely does).

To the NRA lobbyists, the sky is falling every day. There are monsters on the street out to get us all. Armageddon is surely coming. We must have guns. Eeek. Run! Actually the sky is falling. Today a meteroite landed in Russia and injured hundreds of people. I guess a gun wouldn't have protected those folks from such an apocalyptic event. We have worse things to worry about in our everyday lives. 32 Americans a day die from gun homicides. Shouldn't we do something about this? So let's say we want to prevent injuries and deaths. How have we accomplished that in America? We actually have done a lot of things to prevent cancer, to make cars safer, to pass speed limit laws, to regulate the sale of unsafe toys and tainted food, to license professionals to make sure they will practice in a safe and lawful manner, to require drivers to have a license, to make sure children are educated, to inspect institutions and businesses for fraud, etc.

But the one place we are doing nothing is firearms. We have not made sure that we stop criminals, dangerously mentally ill people, domestic abusers, terrorists and others who shouldn't have guns from getting them anyway. We have not demanded licensing of gun owners or registering of guns. We have not made sure that weapons designed for the military are not in the hands of citizens. We have not done a good enough job to stop stolen guns or straw purchasing which can lead to the illegal gun market. We do not place guns in the purview of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. We are not allowing adequate monitoring of gun dealers. We do not allow government agencies to do research on the cause and effect of gun ownership and guns in the home. There's much more. The President has listed some executive orders in his plan to reduce and prevent gun violence to deal with these things. The NRA has proclaimed that the sky is falling because President Obama wants to do some things to keep Americans safe through executive order. Of course all Presidents issue executive orders but never mind the facts. The sky is falling. 20 first graders were massacred on 12/14. For their loved ones, the sky fell and darkened their lives forever on that day. It's time to do something so the President is going to do something. But why has all of this not been done? Why have we allowed the killing of 30,000 Americans a year from firearms injuries? Good question. One of the answers is because of the undue influence of the NRA lobbyists and leaders.

Let's start with universal background checks. Almost 2 million people have been stopped from buying guns at federally licensed dealers since the Brady law was enacted in 1994. Some folks with criminal records have obviously tried to buy guns from licensed dealers. The National Instant Check System is not perfect but surely it has stopped some who shouldn't be able to legally buy a gun from getting one in the first place. If these folks have tried and failed, where do they go? Private sellers? Why not? These folks know there are private sellers of guns that don't require background checks. Yes we know they steal guns, they get them on the streets, they use straw purchasers and other means. But private sales is one of the ways to get a gun for people who can't pass a background check. Wayne LaPierre is against asking everyone to go through a simple background check. Why? Let's see what he's saying. Every time he opens his mouth, his crazy rants get crazier. Here is the latest:
In a speech billed as the NRA response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union call for new gun regulations, LaPierre noted in remarks to the National Wild Turkey Federation in Nashville that the speech didn't mention school security. He dismissed Obama's calls for background checks for all firearms purchases and bans on assault weapons and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
"We will not be duped by the hypocrisy in the White House or the Congress who would deny our right to semi-automatic technology, and the magazines we need to defend ourselves and our families," he said.
LaPierre said the proponents' real intentions would be to "ban every gun they can, tax every gun sold and register every gun owner."
George Thornton, the CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation, said his group agrees with LaPierre's positions, even though not all of the gun-control proposals would directly affect hunters.
"You really don't need large clips for hunting," he said. "However, I have a very strong belief when you start to limit things, that the limits continue to chip away."
LaPierre also said a universal background check would not stop criminals or the mentally ill from getting firearms.
"Even when prohibited people are flagged by the system now, they are almost never stopped," he said.
So then, why are LaPierre and others like him so opposed to requiring the same background checks now required at licensed dealers to be extended to private sellers? He claims it would be to""ban every gun they can, tax every gun sold and register every gun owner."" He's wrong of course. No one has said this. It's simply not true. Every time LaPierre gets on the national stage, he yells "BOO". The scary thing is that some people actually believe this fear mongering- like some of the turkey hunters in his audience last night. Shame on them. There really is no good reason to oppose background checks on all gun sales. LaPierre and others can not make a reasonable claim against universal background checks. To say some people won't abide by the rules is ludicrous. We know that. That's why we want to change the rules so that if they don't abide or don't qualify, they might just be stopped from getting a gun that could kill someone. Because LaPierre is making these ridiculous claims, attention is being paid to his rants and many are taking them apart. This article from Salon.com does a great job of explaining how the NRA has managed to make it easier for criminals and others who shouldn't get guns to get them anyway:
In a nation armed with more than a quarter of a billion privately owned firearms, the NRA is correct to assert that determined outlaws will often find a way to get their hands on guns. The problem is that the NRA is the foremost enabler of many of those outlaws.
We can’t link the NRA directly to the hideous acts of alleged Aurora gunman James Holmes, 24, or to any one of the nation’s 9,000 to 10,000 annual gun murders and 338,000 rapes, robberies and other non-fatal assaults, or to the actions of the “deranged madmen” whom the NRA loves to demonize.  What we can say with absolute certainty is that where there are loopholes in gun laws, laws that make it more difficult to get thugs off the streets and laws that endanger the lives of police and ordinary citizens alike, you will invariably find the fingerprints of the NRA. Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s CEO and public face, may call his group “one of the largest law enforcement organizations in the country,”  but under his leadership the NRA  – with a 2010 budget of more than $240 million — has become the nation’s de facto lobby for street criminals, criminal gun dealers and an industry that reaps a sizable percentage of its income from criminal gun use.  The NRA, says Pittsburgh police detective Joseph Bielevicz, “takes every chance it gets to stymie even reasonable efforts to combat gun violence.”
No one honestly doubts that the NRA is the reason there is no serious debate about guns in Congress. So today we live under a series of  laws written or advanced by the NRA. Today a state can impose a death sentence or life in prison on someone who commits murder with a firearm. But the “What, me worry?” gun dealer, who supplies multiple murderers with guns he claims were “stolen” from his inventory, guns he never recorded on his books, or guns he sold to straw buyers with a wink and a nod, can operate with virtual impunity, thanks to laws written by the NRA.
There is so much more in the above article on which to chew. The bottom line is that while Wayne LaPierre is making his false and twisted claims, he has gotten away with making sure the very people he and others claim to fear and claim to need their guns to defend against, easily get those guns. So of course, if you make sure those folks have guns, then citizens need their own to defend against the ones who shouldn't have them in the first place. I just love the section of the article about how guns could be confiscated in America:
At this point, it might be useful to pause and take a deep breath. We can probably all agree that confiscating 300 million guns held by fully a third of U.S. households would be one formidable and messy undertaking. Let’s ignore the fact that this would be illegal and unconstitutional, and that the vast majority of Americans would find this eventuality unlikely . Let’s also ignore the question of who, exactly, would do this. Marines? Police? The National Guard? Does anyone living in the 21st century really believe that a dictatorial government would need a centralized database if it wanted to snatch our guns?
In a world where U.S. intelligence agencies can pinpoint a person’s exact location using a cellphone’s GPS, where tens of thousands of video cameras are running 24/7 in public and private spaces, where a vast smorgasbord of computers contains the most intimate details of our lives, from the movies we watch to the brand of toilet paper we prefer, even LaPierre must realize that it is patently absurd to claim that figuring out who has a gun requires a national registry. Identifying the most strident gun-rights true believers would be easiest of all, since they’re constantly advertising themselves. Credit card records of gun purchases, lists of subscribers to gun aficionado and paramilitary magazines, not to mention Field and Stream, chat rooms, Facebook, websites, tweets and blogs — the LL Bean mailing list! — contain the names of tens of millions of hunters, sportsmen, grandmothers and other gun owners. Amazon.com will suggest additional book titles I might enjoy after I buy LaPierre’s “Guns, Freedom and Terrorism,” “Guns, Crime and Freedom,” or “The Global War on Your Guns: Inside the U.N. Plan to Destroy the Bill of Rights.” Will records of LaPierre’s Internet book sales be used to “target” gun owners? The NRA helps fund its lobbying efforts by offering members a “platinum” NRA VISA card. Will cardholders be at risk of being rounded up should Obama win reelection? Is it time to take that “NRA Life Member” license plate off the SUV? Might a tyrannical regime hack into the NRA’s computers, or send someone in a taxi to NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Va., and seize the lobby’s membership list? If the “freedom haters,” as LaPierre likes to call them, are half as smart and well-organized as he would have us believe, they should have no trouble tracking down even the most hardened armed survivalists flown to remote corners of the fatherland in off-road vehicles stocked with high-powered weapons, crates of ammunition, dehydrated food and dog-eared copies of “The Turner Diaries.”
Does LaPierre ignore this on purpose or does he cynically twist things out of proportion to keep his place in the dwindling group of anti-government pro gun industry cranks? His rants make no sense when examined under the spotlight he is shining on himself and his crazy ideas. His credibility is tanking every day he gives another speech with his paranoid anti-government rants. I have long thought that it would be very easy to find out who had the guns if some tyrannical leader wanted to find out.But it's simply not going to happen. Do the people who believe LaPierre actually think through what he is saying? How could they? They are being led by a man who is lying to them.

Lives depend on our getting this right. Resisting any attempt to save lives makes no sense. Since the Sandy Hook shooting, LaPierre, representing the NRA lobbyists and leaders, has become desperate to save the gun industry and the right for just about anyone to own and carry a gun. This was on full display in the speech delivered last night. Shame on the people in the audience for believing this man who is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the debate. One man, when asked, even admitted that the doesn't need high capacity magazines to hunt turkeys. Of course not. The public is impatient to get something done. The public is in favor of changing the current laws so at least some lives can be saved. This should not be controversial. Why do the gun lobbyists insist on making it so controversial? Follow the money and you will have your answer. Or look at the waning influence of this behemoth organization on politicians and you will have your answer. Giving up all that power and control is causing fear, paranoia and dissembling. It's not pretty to watch it play out so publicly. I predict that LaPierre will keep saying these things and the public and politicians will keep backing away from him because they will understand that deliberately resisting attempts to save lives is dangerous and cynical.We are better than this.

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