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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Monday, March 18, 2013

It's silly season about gun laws in Minnesota and the country

Really dear readers, the NRA lobbyists and leaders have outdone themselves of late to make the organization irrelevant in the face of increasing public pressure to pass common sense gun laws. There isn't enough space in this post to describe them all so I will choose a few to highlight. The CPAC conference just finished. Every year the NRA's Wayne LaPierre says some silly things at this conference. This year was no exception:
"This was an amazing example of projection, and the CRAZY WAYNE Act was flamboyant enough to put most people off the scent. In the last decade, the NRA has only co-operated with one legislative response to a mass shooting -- the  The NCIS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007. The price for bringing the NRA on board, and not whipping Blue Dog Democrats to kill the bill, was to take the "mentally ill" tag away from anyone "rehabilitated through any procedure available under law" and to enact a "Relief from Disabilities" reform. The latter reform allowed people classified as mentally ill, and unable to buy guns, to get their rights back with more ease. And there was one more NRA win: States were allowed to restore gun rights to people who fell under the ban on their own terms, with legislation.
Now look back to LaPierre:
Criminals won't participate and the records of the mentally ill will never ever be part of the check. With all the HIPAA laws and patient privacy issues, the monsters of Tucson, Aurora, Newtown -- those names will never be in the system.
This is six years after LaPierre worked to make it easier for the mentally ill "crazy killers" to get their gun rights restored. Industrial-grade chutzpah.
Sigh. This is a conference for the ultra conservative wing of the Republican party and usually has some fiery speeches. Since President Obama was elected, the speeches mostly center around anti-Obama hate rhetoric and pro gun hyperbole. There are also a bunch of break-out sessions to examine the issues of importance for the extremes of the Republican party who attend the conference. One such session is an example of how the NRA increases its' membership roles and then brags about how many members it has. It just proves my theory that the organization inflates its' numbers to keep itself looking powerful and well funded. From the article:
At NRA University, National Rifle Association grassroots organizer Miranda Bond told a group of young conservatives fresh from Sarah Palin’s fiery, lead-barreled CPAC speech Saturday afternoon that encouraging pro-gun friends to register to vote was a good start—and even better would be discourage “anti-gunners” from casting ballots.
“The thing is, we don’t want the anti-gunners to vote,” she said, lamenting the fact that President Obama was re-elected despite the NRA’s best efforts to oust him. So, she said, students should set up voter registration booths on campus but “put up a great big sign that says, ‘Pro-gun? Vote Here.” That will keep the gun control advocates away, she said, because “they’re scared of guns.”
The group of more than 50 people, about half of them women, were there to listen, to learn, and to claim a free NRA hat as well as a free year of membership.
Scared of guns? Yup. I wonder if anyone in that room knows someone who has been shot to death in a gun homicide, suicide or accidental shooting? I wonder if anyone in that room knows a parent of one of the 20 little children massacred at the Sandy Hook elementary school? I wonder if anyone in that room knows what it's like to see and imagine what a loved one suffered from the gunshot wounds. I wonder..... How silly can these folks be? What kind of nonsense are people being fed in order to feed the insatiable appetite for guns and ammunition fostered by the NRA and the gun industry? What is this session sponsored by "NRA University", whatever the heck that is, all about? A total of 50 people showed up at this important break-out session. Not a very big class for a university. If we only keep those ignorant "anti-gunners" from voting, all will be well. We will be able to get everything we want. Really NRA? Are you kidding? At least the agenda is out there for all to see and hear. Some of us on the Democratic side of things have worked hard to make sure the extremists of the Republican party don't get their way with their Voter ID laws and others that would keep people from voting. But never mind, they are undaunted. Is this what the Voter ID laws are really all about? If we keep young people, senior citizens, minorities and others from voting, the pro gun side will get its' way? This is twisted and of grave concern to our democratic process. If the guys with the guns make the rules, who knows what our great country could become?

Now, let's talk about how all those guns have made us safer in our homes and communities. I was happy to see that another blogger has taken up the accidental shootings in America. Check this one out:
A Hanover, MD, man is dead after being hit by a bullet discharged from another floor of the home, police said.
On Saturday, March 16, at approximately 11:45 a.m. police officers and emergency medical personnel responded to the 400 block of South Hills Court in Westminster to investigate a reported shooting, according to police reports. 
When they got to the home, police said they found Vygants Tomas Campe, 46, of Hanover, MD, on the first floor of the home suffering from a single gunshot wound.  The victim was alert and conscious at the scene but died in surgery at the University Of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, according to police. 
Investigators said that Campe was visiting with the homeowner at the time of the shooting.  Police said that the homeowner was handling a pistol on the second floor of the home when it discharged, the bullet passed through the floor and struck Campe, who was lying on the couch in the living room. 
And that was just one of of 15 incidents of accidental shootings by law abiding gun owners in 3 days of postings on one page of the site. I often reference the Ohh Shoot blog where incidents such as this are reported. Guns are dangerous. The very idea that we should weaken gun laws, or not pass reasonable gun laws because it will affect law abiding gun owners is ludicrous given the general carelessness of way too many law abiding gun owners. One is law abiding until suddenly, in a trigger pull, one is not. It is not only criminals shooting people, it is careless gun owners who seem to have the idea that nothing bad will ever happen if we just let them have any gun they want and not pass any laws to restrict who can have guns, where they can have them and what kind they can have. That is a flawed and dangerous argument that has managed to take hold in this country in spite of the facts.

In Minnesota and other states in the country, gun laws are under consideration. Since Sandy Hook, over 2700 Americans have been killed by gunshot injuries. In 90 days, that many Americans have been shot to death in gun homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings. Requiring background checks on all gun sales will not stop all of the shootings. But, for goodness sake, we need to start somewhere. Since the new laws have passed in the state of New York, one person has already been arrested who wouldn't have been before the laws were passed. From the article:
A 33-year-old man from western New York state is the first person to be charged under the state's strict new gun law that was passed in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.
Prosecutors said Benjamin Wassell, of Silver Creek, N.Y., was charged with illegally selling assault and semi-automatic assault weapons to an undercover state police investigator, WGRZ-TV reported.
"By selling these illegal firearms, Mr. Wassell's actions had potentially dangerous consequences for New Yorkers," said State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. "We have seen far too much gun violence in our state in recent months, and the sale of illegal semi-automatic weapons will not go unpunished."
The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act was passed by the legislature in mid-January following the killing of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn., in December.
According to court documents, the sale included an AR-15, nearly 300 rounds of ammo and six magazines and an AR-10 semi-automatic rifle along with 31 rounds of ammo and one magazine.
During the investigation, prosecutors say, the undercover officer told Wassell that he or she was a convicted felon. Under the SAFE Act, it is illegal to sell an AR-10 to a felon.
The seller was told by the "buyer", the undercover agent, that he/she was a convicted felon but sold the guns anyway. This is a prime example of why we need to require background checks on all gun sales. Laws do matter. Private sales like the one above, go on every day in America. The seller wants to make a sale. The seller is told, as I have described has happened in Minnesota on previous blog posts, by the buyer that he can't pass a background check. No problem. Sale happens. Buyer walks out with the assault rifle and everyone's happy, right? Unless of course, the buyer decides to shoot up a school classroom or a work place, or a shopping mall with that gun. It's just plain silly and dangerous to pretend that passing these laws won't make a difference. Our leaders have been fooled for far too long by a group of lobbyists who care about the bottom line- money. The innocents lives taken by people who shouldn't have guns is the real bottom line.

We just can't accept anymore that collateral damage of human lives, of first graders and babies, is necessary to protect gun rights. The second amendment was not meant to let people get away with murder. The second amendment can co-exist with reasonable gun laws and always has, as a matter of fact. Using the specious argument that passing ANY gun law will violate rights and lead to registration and confiscation is false and silly. We are better than this as a country. Gunshot injuries that take the lives of 80 Americans a day is not collateral damage. We are not at war in America. If we don't demand a plan from our elected leaders, we are allowing the daily carnage and shame on us for letting it happen. Minnesota has a chance to change all of that tomorrow in the House Public Safety Committee. Will our legislators do the right thing or will they fool themselves into believing the fear and paranoia coming from the NRA lobbyists who represent a small minority of Minnesotans in recent polling? Lives depend on their doing the right thing. Let's not let the silly and tired old arguments that just don't work anymore be the ones that get the attention of our lawmakers.

UPDATE:

I knew it wouldn't be long before another incident of silliness coming from the gun rights extremists. Here, from the CPAC conference, is another example of rude, boorish and demeaning behavior that makes the arguments of the extremists irrelevant:
An NRA panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference this past weekend mocked a congresswoman whose husband was murdered in a 1993 mass-shooting, claiming she has “no idea what [she's] talking about” when it comes to gun control laws. (...) 
Twenty years ago, McCarthy’s husband Dennis was one of the six people who died in a shooting rampage on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train. The shooter, Colin Ferguson, targeted people at random, carrying a handgun and high-capacity magazines. McCarthy’s son Kevin was also shot and severely injured in the spree. The tragedy prompted McCarthy to become an outspoken advocate for stronger gun laws and eventually win a seat in Congress three years later.
Yet McCarthy’s personal experience with the horrors of gun violence did not stop the NRA from disparaging her understanding of the issues surrounding firearms. NRA Organizer Colton Kerrigan played a video of the New York congresswoman and made fun of her for not knowing what a barrel shroud is, using the episode to dismiss her entire push for stronger gun laws. She has “no idea what [she's] writing, never shot a gun before, and yet [she's] going to tell you what you should and should not own to make everybody else safer.” (...) 
The NRA is mocking McCarthy for her support of a perfectly reasonable law. Barrel shrouds can be used to facilitate faster and more accurate fire into crowds of people — that is, precisely the sort of assault that claimed McCarthy’s husband’s life. Picking out features like barrel shrouds in assault weapon bans is an effective proxy mechanism for defining the most dangerous weapons currently being sold.
Moreover, to say that a woman who personally knows the tragic impact firearms but has “never shot a gun before” can’t have a valid perspective on gun laws is ludicrous. Her experience with gun violence is no less (and arguably much more) relevant to debates about gun laws than that of gun aficionados. Why does the mere fact of growing up going to a shooting range mean that one’s opinion should be given more weight than that of a woman whose husband was gunned down?
Here's the video from the article. Watch people laugh and clap at the expense of Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy:



Indeed. Why? Such arrogance and rudeness should not be accepted as an argument against passing reasonable gun laws. If elected leaders listen to this, shame on them.

UPDATE #2:

I was remiss in not including this blog by New York Times blogger, Joe Nocera, who is keeping track of gun incidents on an almost daily basis. Here is today's entry. Nocera is doing us a favor by carefully letting us know about actual shootings and how often they happen. In this entry he has 16 gun incidents listed. Of those, 23 were injured and 5 died of their injuries. This is in one week-end. And here is the last section of the blog entry:
According to Slate’s gun-death tracker, an estimated 2,763 people have died as a result of gun violence in America since the Newtown massacre on December 14, 2012 – surpassing the recorded death toll of the Sept. 11 attacks, which stands at 2,752.
Remember how America reacted after 9/11? Where is the same reaction after 12/14 and since? Why are we not doing anything to stop the next shooting like we have done to stop another terror attack like the one on 9/11?

1 comment:

  1. How typical of the gun lobby. Not only do they ignore those who have experienced shootings or the loss of loved ones to guns when they call for reform, but openly mock them if they dare to speak out. I should know. Another reason I call the NRA pro-criminal.

    ReplyDelete