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.
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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Where do they get their ideas?

I have spent another two days at the Minnesota legislature at hearings about gun violence prevention bills. To say the least, it was an interesting time. At least the Senate decided that it was a good idea to make sure each side had an equal number of seats in the room so the atmosphere was calmer and much less of a circus. There were still pro gun activists in their maroon tee shirts, armed with openly carried guns in holsters. I don't know why they changed their tee shirt color from orange to maroon. Whatever. Not important. Here are some observations from the recent Minnesota Senate hearings:

  • I just can't understand, nor can most sane people, why gun rights advocates have a need to display their guns openly in the Minnesota State Capitol. Of whom or what are they afraid? Or is to intimidate? And, by the way, it looks terribly uncomfortable to be carrying that piece of lead around on one's waist. I wonder if anyone thought about how easy it would be for someone sitting close by to reach over and grab the gun? Just a thought.
  • Some of the pro gun rights folks continued their stream of tweets at some of us on the gun violence prevention side. Why? Who knows? Intimidation? Stupidity? Threatening? Calling someone a Communist who has just lost his father in a horrific mass shooting at Accent Signage is not a good idea. Why do they do it? Why taunt us and demean us by Twitter? Rude. Offensive. Unnecessary. Immature.
  • One of the pro gun rights activists apparently was standing close enough to me and another gun violence prevention activist to overhear a private conversation with a State Senator at a rally at the Capitol on Monday and then tweeted about it. What's that all about? Paranoia? Creepy. Why do they care so much about what we are saying? Why do they watch us so closely? Why do they seem nervous when a group of us gather at the Capitol to talk? Why do they want to make group attacks on our Facebook pages and blogs? Why do they want to attend our events? I'm just asking.
  • A State Senator asked this question of the ATF agent who made a presentation in favor of requiring background checks and other common sense gun measures: " Another GOP member, Sen. Warren Limmer of Maple grove, said clubs, baseball bats and hammers are "far more dangerous, and used more often, than a gun.""There's an obvious answer to that ridiculous question. Murder by gun in 2008= 9,840. Murder by blunt object in 2008=614. Other sources provide similar data. Facts matter. Come on. We are talking about people's lives here. Let's please deal with the facts at the very least.
  • Former NRA Board member and Hamlin Law School professor, Joe Olsen, long suffering advocate for not passing reasonable gun laws in Minnesota ( according to testimony, he was tired of coming before the legislature to deal with these issues) told legislators that those of us on the side of preventing gun deaths and injuries had questionable motives and that the universal background check bill would surely lead to registration. Never mind that there is nothing in the bill that would lead a reasonable person to believe that. But paranoia reigns. He was challenged by a Senator who pointed out to him that there was no such language in the bill and that she doubted that we had such motivations. By the way, my testimony included the fact that I, too, am tired of coming before the legislature asking for reasonable measures to stop the senseless shootings. I also mentioned that I had no motivation other than to save lives. But perhaps my views don't matter as much as those of the uber powerful NRA? I'm just wondering.
  • Facts matter. Universal background checks will NOT lead to registration. The background checks now completed by federally licensed dealers do NOT lead to a gun registry. Extending those checks to private sales will NOT lead to a gun registry. They will be the very same NICS checks that presumably Olsen now is willing to undergo when buying guns from a FFL. Why worry about going through the same checks from a private seller? What is this really about?
  • Some on the gun rights side claimed that there is no private sale loophole in Minnesota law. They are wrong, of course. There is. There is no requirement for private sellers to ask buyers to go through a background check at gun shows or other venues. There are copious hidden camera videos showing that to be true. One of our own members went to two gun shows and purchased an assault type weapon and .40 Glock ( the gun used by Cho at the Virginia Tech shooting) with no questions asked from a private seller. He said he didn't want to go through a background check. The seller said "no problem" and he walked out with the guns. He has brought the assault rifle to the legislature before to explain his experience. Here is a "hidden camera" video of Colin Goddard, Virginia Tech survivor, going to gun shows all over the U.S. and buying many guns with no background check, no questions asked. One of these gun shows was in Minnesota.

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  • There are many other of these videos with similar experiences. In addition, Armslist.com provides an Internet venue for purchases of guns with no background checks. Two testifiers said they had checked this website in the past few days and found more than a few Minnesota private sellers advertising their guns for sale on the site. Does everyone remember that the domestic shooter of last summer's Milwaukee mass shooting got his gun from Armslist? Gun laws matter.
  • In polling data from the past many years, gun owners and NRA members have supported, at the least, universal background checks. I have written about this many many times in this blog. The gun rights folks insisted that they had their own poll showing that 90% of NRA members are opposed to universal background checks. I haven't seen that one. Facts matter. The majority of gun owners and even NRA members favor universal background checks at the least. I guess that minority who don't agree were the ones sitting in the room at the hearing.
  • More NRA tired talking points came from the same GOP Senator quoted above- from this article: ""Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, said regulating access to guns will not necessarily cut down on violence.“The individual is the one that makes the decision to exact some evil intent on another and the inanimate object is nothing more than a tool,” he said."
  • Really folks. People are dying. We have moved beyond this trite argument haven't we? After the Sandy Hook school shooting, it's time to move forward with some reasonable discussions that include how to stop senseless shootings and save lives. What good does it do to say that regulating guns will not cut down on violence? Regulating car safety features has cut down on deaths by car accident. Regulating the blood alcohol level of drives has cut down on some accidental auto deaths. Regulating where people can smoke will reduce illness caused by smoking. Regulating childrens' toys has and will stop accidental deaths. Regulating airport security requiring us to take off our shoes and go through screening has stopped terrorist attacks on airplanes after 9/11. Think about it- one man tried to set his shoe on fire on an airplane, didn't succeed, and now we have to take our shoes off at airport security lines. Of course regulating guns, who can buy them, who can carry them, what kinds of guns and ammunition can be accessed, sending all records to the NICS system of prohibited purchasers, etc. will save lives and cut down on violence. That's just common sense. How can these folks get away with continuing to say this stuff?

Oh, and yes, there was talk about the militia, about Nazis, about folks coming across our borders to attack, about a tyrannical government, about nullification, and more. One of the pro gun guys went after a friend of mine whose daughter was kidnapped, raped and murdered by two young men who got their gun from the father of one of them. He said that the gun didn't rape her daughter or kidnap her daughter. Really? Come on. What a stupid and offensive thing to say to someone who lost her young daughter in such a violent and senseless way. Do these guys have compassion at all for victims? They don't like us. For we tell stories that counter their faulty reasoning. We tell stories that just might change the minds of our elected leaders who have been under the thumb of people like them for far too long. They accuse us of "dancing in the blood of victims" when we tell real life stories of friends and family who have been shot to death. Shame on them. Why do they do this? It's uncouth, tasteless, rude, offensive and more. It's not necessary and does nothing to further the discussion. And then they wonder why we don't want to have any discussions with them? We can't possibly have discussions with people who are offensive and hate victims. They tell us they know where we live. Why? What do they intend? They send us anonymous things in the mail. They threaten the businesses of people who testify. They write blogs about us. They take photos of us at the hearings. Why? What are they going to do with those photos? They sometimes threaten us. Why? Why? Why? Why the paranoia and fear?

Where do they get this stuff? Straight from Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA:
“Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States.”
“…the border today remains porous not only to people seeking jobs in the U.S., but to criminals whose jobs are murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping.”
“Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival.”
“We, the American people, clearly see the daunting forces we will undoubtedly face: terrorists, crime, drug gangs, the possibility of Euro-style debt riots, civil unrest or natural disaster.”
“We don’t want America to become like England, where some of that nation’s outstanding rifle competitors keep their hobby a dark secret from their neighbors for fear of social disapproval.”
“We will not surrender. We will not appease. We will buy more guns than ever.” (...) Part of his frothing rant contained this bit of cluelessness:
“After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.”
Do you remember that? For over a week, there was wall to wall news coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I don’t recall any coverage of widespread looting. Was it suppressed by the left-wing media? Yeah, just like they kept their cameras out of the post Katrina looting or the OJ Simpson riots. Even the liberally biased media is quick to crane their necks and cameras at the site of a disaster.
Isn’t that why they follow Wayne LaPierre around?
I rest my case. We can save lives by passing reasonable measures to keep guns away from those who shouldn't have them. These measures are not unconstitutional. The second amendment co-exists with reasonable gun laws. Why do the gun rights folks not object to the current system of requirements to get a background check when buying a gun from a licensed dealer? They subject themselves to this terribly inconvenient practice daily. They go to local law enforcement for their permits to acquire and permits to carry their guns. They already comply with many common sense measures. They claim to be law abiding. If so, why object to keeping those who aren't from getting and using guns that kill innocent people? Why? Why? I have heard no good answers. The time is now to act. The time is past for far too many innocent victims. The country came to an agreement on 12/14 when 20 little children were massacred. The country is saying that these children and the many other victims including the almost 2000 who have been shot and killed since 12/14 deserve a vote. The country is telling their local, state and federal politicians to stop pandering to the NRA lobbyists, whose views have become increasingly irrelevant and strident, and do the right thing. Surely we are better than this as a country. Let's get to work.

10 comments:

  1. If Newtown was the turning point on this issue then why are none of the laws being proposed ones that would have prevented this shooting? He stole the gun from his mom. And it's obvious that even if he had stolen non-assault weapons from his mom, he could have done equivalent damage. The Virginia Tech shooter used handguns with 10-round magazines to kill 32 and injure 17.

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    1. The Newtown shooting was a turning point because it was just one a series of mass shootings that caught the national attention. The public has supported reasonable gun laws for many years but found their voice on 12/14. Everyone knows that these laws won't stop all shootings from happening. But we have to do something to stop some of the shootings. After Virginia Tech, we have attempted to tighten up the sending of mental health records to NICS. That could be stopping a shooting or two. WE are going to do everything we can, including background checks. Adam Lanza knew he couldn't pass a background check. So he stole his guns from his mother. The other thing the Newtown shooting did was call attention to how dangerous it is to have loaded guns around a house where vulnerable adults live ( or children). You guys don't want to do anything to stop anybody because not every law applies to each situation. The public is on to you. We are going to start passing laws to try to stop at least some of the shootings. If the 21st child had been your own, you would think differently. The 13th bullet in the Tucson shooting was for 9 year old Kristina Taylor Green. If Loughner had only had 10 rounds that day, Kristina Taylor Green would be alive. If she were you child, do you think having only 10 rounds would make a difference? If Cho's name had been in the NICS records and he would have had to work harder to get a gun, do you think that could have make a difference? If we required background checks on all guns sales and Cho had been turned away from a licensed or and private seller and could not have gotten his guns, do you think it would have made a difference? Sure it would have. So stop trying to make excuses. There are none. WE can save some lives here. Why do you object to that?

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  2. I just wanted to let the author know I appreciate you taking the time to blog about this and for having the courage to take a stand against a frequently irrational group. I have been following you the last couple months and you have inspired me to be more active and work for change. I look forward to reading more blogs and sharing them with those who will listen. Thanks a million.

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    1. Thank you. I appreciate the comments and hope you will be active in getting something to change regarding gun laws.

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  3. "Why do they want to attend our events? I'm just asking."

    http://www.goerie.com/Protester-briefly-disrupts-gun-rally

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121221/protesters-interrupt-nra-news-conference

    As you can see, it happens to both sides.

    "I wonder if anyone thought about how easy it would be for someone sitting close by to reach over and grab the gun?"

    As we have discussed before, it happens to both law enforcement and civilians. It almost always ends badly for the person who does the grabbing, since anyone trying to grab someone's weapon can reasonably be assumed to intend to use it on the person being attacked.
    That is why most permit holders carry concealed, although in Minnesota, that is up to the individual to decide. As a rule, police officers dont have the option, since they have to be visible.

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    1. You know, Mark, I might even find it preferable to have the pro gun activists be public in their protests. We have had that happen, too, of course, many times and it happens many more times to folks on the side of reasonable gun laws than on the other side. The rudeness and sneakiness and name calling is what I am talking about here, There is no comparison to the the comments and threats coming from the side of the gun rights extremists to the side of gun violence prevention.

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  4. "If it saves just one life" seems to be your mantra.

    I take it, therefore, that you are in favor of waterboarding?

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    1. This ranks up there with one of the stupidest comments ever made on my blog.

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  5. As a British gun owner and shooter, I can sympathise with your position. However, in a country of over 60 million inhabitants, even with strict gun laws (since 1920) we have gun outrages about once a decade. Everytime one happens they ban another category of guns - often including those not used in the massacre and, in some instances, configurations that had never been used in the commissioning of ANY crime. What legislators know is that, if they make it more difficult to own guns, they will make the gun lobby smaller and less able to protect our rights/privileges from ever more restrictions. This has manifested itself most recently in Scotland in an effort to effectively ban anyone from owning low-powered air rifles unless they can meet the conditions for a centrefire or rimfire rifle. Since target shooting is only allowed as a member of a Home Office certified club on an approved range (which are very rare in rural Scotland) and many shooters don't have hunting permissions, or want to hunt, this is effectively a ban. It will prevent new shooters coming into the sport by what was easily the most accessible route. The air rifles will still be out there in their millions with criminals and idiots abusing them and only the law abiding will have been affected. The answer to gun laws that do not work, as ever, will be more gun laws.

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    1. Yes, and isn't it interesting that gun deaths in England and the UK in general are just a mere fraction of what they are in the U.S. That is because your country has decided that, in response to problems presented with gun crimes and gun deaths, it's a good idea to institute laws to make the public safer. And it has worked.
      http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-kingdom
      Gun homicide in the UK is .04 per 100,000

      The U.S.? 3.6 per 100,000

      Making it harder to get guns for everyone, including criminals, has the effect of making it harder to shoot people.

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