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.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Why we must act

There has been a lot of back and forth about the reasons for changing our gun laws and the reasons not to do anything and move on as if nothing happened after 12/14. But read this article written about the mother of one of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting and why she wanted to see her son's body after the massacre. The thing is, shooting another human being causes the victim to bleed and to severely damage body parts. Just thinking of those little children and the horror of 12/14 should be enough to move us all to action. Well, actually, it is. The problem is, our politicians, who should have stood up immediately and said "Enough", are pandering and waffling. Shame on them. Have they read this article? Did they see the bodies of those little children? No? Do they know what it's like to view the body of a loved one and then think forever after about the terror and pain in the seconds right before death came? For that is what this is about. That is why we must act. That is why we can't wait until the next shooting of little children to act. That is why new laws need to be passed. The nation must do something to heal from the collective grief of 12/14. From the above article:
Jewish Daily Forward posted a column by journalist Naomi Zeveloff, who spoke with Veronique Pozner about Noah’s death and the days that followed. Zeveloff details her struggle with publishing the information she was given by Mrs. Pozner — but ultimately concludes the grieving parent hoped to illustrate in facts and difficult truths what the “angels in heaven” narrative so thoroughly conceals.
At the start of the piece, Zeveloff quotes Pozner as she describes asking Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy to view Noah’s open casket — Veronique Pozner explains, heartbreakingly, how she hoped that if the time ever came to pass legislation on the factors that led to her son’s death, Gov. Malloy would be able to place a face and a person with the decision:
“I needed it to have a face for him … If there is ever a piece of legislation that comes across his desk, I needed it to be real for him.”
Later in the discussion, Zeveloff explains that Noah’s mom described, without prompting, the state of his remains when she viewed them, saying:
“We all saw how beautiful he was. He had thick, shiny hair, beautiful long eyelashes that rested on his cheeks. He looked like he was sleeping. But the reality of it was under the cloth he had covering his mouth there was no mouth left. His jaw was blown away. I just want people to know the ugliness of it so we don’t talk about it abstractly, like these little angels just went to heaven. No. They were butchered. They were brutalized. And that is what haunts me at night.”
Zeveloff asks Pozner how she came to make the decision to view Noah’s body, and what tears at your soul about it is the essence of her statement — because who among us would not feel the exact same way?
Veronique Pozner replied:
“I owed it to him as his mother, the good, the bad, the ugly … It is not up to me to say I am only going to look at you and deal with you when you are alive, that I am going to block out the reality of what you look like when you are dead. And as a little boy, you have to go in the ground. If I am going to shut my eyes to that I am not his mother. I had to bear it. I had to do it.”
Indeed, in those two exchanges, it seems the crux of the issue is clear — Veronique Pozner made the difficult choice to view Noah’s body after he had been shot 11 times at close range because she owed it to him, as his mother, to know.
We owe it to Noah and the other children who were massacred on 12/14 to make it much harder for anything like that to ever happen again. As most everyone has acknowledged, nothing is the same since 12/14. Change is going to happen. It's just a matter of what it is going to look like. E.J. Dionne wrote this column today for the Washington Post: 
Told over and over again that members of both parties were forever destined to do the National Rifle Association’s bidding, these supporters of thoroughly moderate and reasonable weapons measures never gave up and never surrendered. Their time has come.
Behind the miracle, of course, lies the profound tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the loss of “26 beautiful lives,” as Lynn McDonnell, mother of 7-year-old Grace McDonnell, one of those beautiful lives, put it at a conference in Connecticut last week.
But sad as it is to say, many other lives had been lost before in mass shootings, and Congress and the president just went about their business. Why was Newtown the last straw?
There was, above all, the sheer horror of all those children killed. You sensed that something snapped that day in the minds of millions of Americans. At that moment, they were done with powerlessness and inertia.
The change in the president’s political situation mattered, too. Unfortunately, he had been unwilling before the 2012 election to speak out boldly on guns. The Newtown killings galvanized him.
The fact that he and Biden have refused to let the issue fade away has also made a difference. Once it became clear that neither they nor anyone else on the side of gun sanity would be intimidated by the NRA, the bullies were revealed for what they are and their punch was shown to be far less formidable than their threats.
Suddenly, Americans in large numbers (and the media, too) started noticing how extreme, even wacky, the rhetoric of the gun manufacturers’ lobby has become. Its talk about representing the “real America” was exposed as a fraud: “Real” Americans don’t resist pragmatic solutions to the problems of mass violence.
Oh, yes, and it was also finally noticed that a majority of Americans doesn’t own guns, that gun ownership has dropped over time and that this real majority does not want to be forced to live in a world in which everyone is terrorized into buying a weapon. (...) 
Here is where suburban Republicans will be put to the test. Already, some in their ranks, including Reps. Peter King and Michael Grimm of New York and Michael Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, have spoken for action. The message needs to be sent from the nation’s bedroom communities: A GOP under the control of the NRA is not an acceptable option for moms and dads who want their kids protected from violence. Tax cuts don’t matter if your kids aren’t safe.
It is amazing what can happen when an empty ideology is confronted by an insistent band of problem-solvers — and when political fear gives way to a fierce determination.
Indeed. It is amazing what can happen when the public decides that enough is enough and the media has the resolve to take a much better look at the NRA lobbyists. Speaking of NRA lobbyists, Wayne LaPierre continues to insist that a universal background check will absolutely lead to a national registration and gun confiscation.  From the article:
"Most recently, the NRA has been publicizing a memo it obtained from the Justice Department that says the success of universal background checks would depend in part on “requiring gun registration,” and says gun buybacks would not be effective “unless massive and coupled with a ban.”
“Don’t you be fooled.  There is nothing “universal,” nor “reasonable” about it.  They ought to stop pretending and stop calling it what it will never be.  Criminals will never be a part of it, and I have come to believe that the adjudicated mentally incompetent [won't either]…This so-called universal background check that you’re hearing about is aimed at one thing: it’s aimed at registering your guns and, when another tragic opportunity presents itself, that registry will be used to confiscate your guns.”
“Imagine right now, your name on a massive government list,” he asked the audience, noting that it would be pretty “handy” for a drug dealer, thug, or criminal.  “How safe do you think that government list will be?” he continued, noting the flood of personal information released this year by various media outlets on gun owners."
Really Wayne? Let's look at what's been happening since the Brady Law was enacted in 1994 requiring background checks on gun sales at federally licensed firearms dealers. Has there been a gun registry for all of those millions of gun owners who have subjected themselves to a background check? NO! Has there been gun confiscation as a result of the Brady Law? NO! So why do you now scream about a gun registry and gun confiscation? What is this all about anyway? Is this just to be against anything that President Obama favors? Is this only to protect the sales of guns rather than the lives of small children and others in America? Is this about keeping your own job? Is this to make sure politicians remain afraid of your ridiculous fear mongering and paranoid agenda? You used to be in favor of universal background checks. What changed your mind? Increasing hysteria and crazed thinking? Or is it, at long last, this:
Insiders at the embattled National Rifle Association say the organization is padding its claims of recent increases in membership and say more members are leaving amid criticisms over strident positions taken by controversial leader Wayne LaPierre.
“In reality, our membership is probably dropping,” says one embittered NRA staffer, who asked not to be identified.  “It’s hard to say because our membership department is always playing games with the numbers.”
Capitol Hill Blue has received several hundred emails from persons who identify themselves as “former NRA members” who have left the organization in protests over the group’s hard-core positions following the increase in gun violence in schools.
Another member who quit is Capitol Hill Blue founder and publisher Doug Thompson, who dropped his life membership in the organization and called LaPierre an “out of control egomaniac whose uncompromising positions are damaging the image of law-abiding gun owners in America.”
Thompson joins former Congressman and current MSNBC talk show host Joe Scarborough in condemning LaPierre and current NRA tactics.  The Capitol Hill Blue publisher served on Capitol Hill from 1981-1987 as a congressional chief of staff and committee staffer for members of Congress endorsed by NRA, including former Congressman and later interior secretary Manuel Lujan, and worked with a number of NRA lobbyists.
“Unfortunately, NRA — like Congress — is controlled by extremists who answer not to ordinary Americans but to an industry that is more concerned with making money at any cost — even the lives of innocent Americans,” Thompson said. (...) 
ASSC operated out of Atlanta and, while claiming to be an organization of gun owners, was in fact a front for the industry.  ASSC, Feldman once bragged, is “as pro-gun as our customers.”
ASSC, which claimed 17,000 members, later admitted most of its membership list were gun manufacturers, wholesalers and dealers.
“It’ an old trick,” Thompson said.  “Set up an organization that claims to be driven by individuals but is in fact controlled by an industry.  Like NRA, ASSC served business, not people.”
Scarborough agrees, calling NRA a mouthpiece for a gun industry more concerned with money than safety.  While serving in Congress, Scarborough received an A-plus rating from the gun organization.
Scarborough calls a recent op-ed by LaPierre “racially-tinged” and faults claims made by the NRA leader of “widespread violence” in South Brooklyn after Hurricane Sandy.
LaPierre said crime was up after the Hurricane hit and also claimed that more guns in the hands of citizens would have prevented what he called a “hellish world” of violence.
In fact, says New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne, crime went down.
“It was hardly hell week,” Browne says. “There were no murders, no shootings, no rape.”
Citizens of the area were even more outspoken.
“He’s a f—-king idiot,” says Steven Feinstein, owner of Wilensky Hardware in Coney Island, when asked about LaPierre’s claims.  “His claims were nonsense.”
Capitol Hill Blue has learned that dissension is growing within NRA ranks and, as a result, public appearances by NRA leader LaPierre have been limited while the board deals with the internal dissent and member defections.
A number of current and former NRA employees say claims of a 20 percent increase in membership in recent months are “patently false” and say any increase is offset by a loss of members who are unhappy with the organization.
The trade organization is also spending more than it has taking in, piling up recent losses.  A non-exempt tax return filed for 2010 shows the group lost $15 million that year.
Well, there you have it. As I have been saying all along, the NRA has been lying about it's numbers of supporters. It looks like I've been right. So LaPierre should really take a seat. Every time he speaks, more members drop out and realize that the NRA is not supporting rational gun owners any more. In addition, the crazy talk is making even supporters nervous. In addition, other things are happening that should make the NRA nervous. Comcast is pulling gun ads from some of their viewing areas. 
Depending on what part of the U.S. you live in, gun ads on TV may be as commonplace as those for Tide or Home Depot. However, Comcast has quietly put a policy in place that will stop its cable systems from accepting ads for guns or from retail stores promoting gun sales, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A Flint, Michigan ABC News affiliate originally reported the story when an ad agency placed an order for Williams Gun Sight and the order was denied.
Comcast Spotlight released a statement saying, "Consistent with long standing NBC policies, Comcast Spotlight has decided it will not accept new advertising for firearms or weapons moving forward. This policy aligns us with the guidelines in place at many media organizations." (...) 

The policy change comes after a politicians in Washington questioned if the media played a role in shootings like the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. According to the Times, a spokesman for Comcast said the approach is similar to one its entertainment unit NBCUniversal has for its broadcast TV stations.
NBC's policy does not cover all gun ads on all outlets, however. NBC Sports Network will continue to accept advertisements for hunting weapons, such as shotguns and rifles, but will not accept ads for handguns, semi-automatic and automatic weapons and ammunition.
Things are changing and changing fast. The dichotomy of thinking between the article about Sandy Hook school victim Noah Pozner and the crazed rhetoric of Wayne LaPierre couldn't be more stunning. The big question is, on which side will our elected leaders come down? Will they listen to the parents of the Sandy Hook shooting and do right by their children's memories? Or will they listen to crazy and out-of-touch Wayne LaPierre whose illogic makes no sense at all? Will they stand with the majority of Americans who are saying they want common sense legislation to address the daily carnage in America? Or will they stand with an organization that is fighting a fool's battle in light of the nation's most frightening and emotional mass shooting? Time will tell but it is definitely time for a change and time for an accounting of our leaders and of those who are standing in the way of doing the right thing at long last. Let's get to work.

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