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.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Keeping us dumb about guns

We need the facts, ma'am. That's all. If we had some facts, perhaps we would better regulate who can have guns, where they have them and what kind of guns they can have.

Check out the latest Stephen Colbert segment on the lack of research into the affects of guns and gun violence:

The case for doing research on guns and gun violence is crucial. When so many people die of anything in this country, we get to work and study why, how, who, and where. That is as it should be. Of course, not so for guns. The NRA has made sure that Americans are as dumb as possible when it comes to guns. Why? Because studying an issue, providing causes, effects and solutions actually leads to good results. And good results might find that having a gun in the home for self defense might lead to someone in the home getting shot. Or carrying a gun in public might lead to an accident or someone shooting a person unnecessarily. It might lead to laws that make it harder, rather than easier, for some people to get guns. Just read this article about the same:
According to scientists who do gun research, scientists who were involved in the National Academies review, and scientists who study the way other scientists do research, there are two key problems. First is the issue of missing and poorly matched data. Second, there are also serious problems with the mathematical models scientists use to analyze that data, and with the type of conclusions they attempt to draw from it. In this first of a two-part series, I’m going to focus on the data. (...) 
"Another key problem, at least in the eyes of the researchers I spoke with, was the existence of Public Law 104-208 and Public Law 112-74. Passed in 1996 and 2011, respectively, these pieces of legislation included provisions that prevented first the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and then all Department of Health and Human Services agencies, from using federal funding to advocate or promote gun control. The language used in this legislation was both broad and vague. According to researchers I spoke with, those laws have had a chilling effect on government-funded scientists, who worried any research they did could be construed as gun-control advocacy if legislators didn’t like the results.
Charles Wellford described a meeting he attended he chaired recently, aimed at formulating research goals and figuring out how to fill in some of the most important blanks in gun violence research. Of the 15 people at the meeting, one was from the CDC. Throughout the meeting, the man began nearly every statement he made by first hedging, explaining that he didn’t want ideas attributed to him and that the CDC would never consider research directions he might personally recommend. “[That legislation] doesn’t say we can’t do research on, say, whether someone has a gun in their home, but careers were damaged and people lost jobs and that has a lasting effect,” Wellford said."
Actually we do now have some facts about the affect of the assault weapons and high capacity magazine ban. Information from the state of Virginia shows that the ban was effective and did make a difference. Read about it here:
The number of guns with high-capacity magazines seized by Virginia police dropped during a decade-long federal prohibition on assault weapons, but the rate has rebounded sharply since the ban was lifted in late 2004, according to a Washington Post analysis. (...) Last year in Virginia, guns with high-capacity magazines amounted to 22 percent of the weapons recovered and reported by police. In 2004, when the ban expired, the rate had reached a low of 10 percent. In each year since then, the rate has gone up.(...)
"Maybe the federal ban was finally starting to make a dent in the market by the time it ended," said Christopher Koper, head of research at the Police Executive Research Forum, who studied the assault weapons ban for the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Justice Department.
Here I thought the previous now abandoned assault weapons ban didn't work. That's what the NRA lobbyists tell us. Should we believe them? Facts matter. Research matters. Laws matter.

So would more research show us how many "law abiding" citizens get guns in spite of the fact that they shouldn't? Really folks, you just can't keep making this stuff up because truth is stranger than fiction. A Delaware man thought he'd go and shoot up a casino because he didn't want his wife to be gambling:
Brandon K. Buchanan, 28, was charged today with first-degree reckless endangering, possession of a firearm during a felony, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, said state police Sgt. Paul Shavack. According to court records, Buchanan’s wife had gambled away $30,000 and he was fed up. The incident unfolded about 11 p.m. Sunday when casino security received the call from Buchanan, Shavack said According to court records, Buchanan told the security officer, “My wife is at your casino, get her out of there or I am going to come up there with an AK-47 and ---- you and that place up.” The security officer told police that the man’s wife had left the casino “a few minutes earlier,” police said in court records. About midnight, a trooper went to talk with the security officer, who said he was talking to Buchanan on the telephone. Buchanan said that a state trooper’s car had just passed him in the parking lot, and the trooper returned to the spot and talked to him as he stood outside his car -- a black 2009 Audi 4-door sedan. When the trooper asked him what was going on, Buchanan replied in “an unsolicited statement” that “I brought the gun down here to scare my wife. She spent $30,000 in this place and I can’t take it anymore. I figured this way, she would realize that I’m serious about this,” according to court records. When asked if he had any weapons on him, Buchanan said he had a gun in the trunk and the magazines and ammunition were locked in the glove compartment, according to the court documents. When the trooper searched Buchanan, he discovered a magazine with 20 rounds of ammunition in the back pocket of his pants, Shavack said. Additional troopers were called to the scene to assist and spotted an assault rifle on the rear seat, identified by police as a Hungarian AMD-65 7.61x39 mm -- similar to an AK-47 -- and in court papers as a UTG-65. Police said they also found 2.5 grams of marijuana along with a pipe on the seat. Troopers obtained a warrant to search Buchanan’s home and found a Century Arms 7.62 mm assault rifle and additional ammunition along with a 9 mm Ruger semi-automatic handgun, Shavack said. Buchanan was arrested and charged with the crimes.
Hmmm. How did this guy get his guns again? Shouldn't we pass some laws to at the least, attempt to stop people like this guy from buying and owning an arsenal of weapons? This guy shouldn't have guns. He is obviously not responsible. Are his second amendment rights abridged when he gets stopped from buying his guns? Or should we just leave things as they are and expect more collateral damage from another mass shooting?

And, to end, I haven't done a post about stupid and dangerous gun incidents for quite a while. Things have been weightier as we have all been trying to come to grips with the mass shooting of first graders on 12/14. Daily shootings and gun discharges don't always result in death. Sometimes they are serious wake-up calls to the danger of having a loaded gun around all the time. Normal people understand that a gun is inherently dangerous because, of course, it's designed to kill. So let's take a look at a couple of incidents that most likely scared the heck out of the owners of the guns:
  1. I know I have written about a pet accidentally discharging a gun before. Here is yet another one of a dog kicking a loaded gun in a man's car resulting in the accidental shooting of the the dog and gun's owner. Here it is now: "35-year-old Gregory Dale Lanier was driving with his pet pooch on Saturday when the dog kicked a .380 pistol that was on the truck's floor. Lanier thought the gun was unloaded, but quickly learned otherwise after hearing a "boom, saw smoke and felt a burning in his leg," Highlands Today reports. The gun had discharged, firing a single round into Lanier's leg. He was not seriously injured." Phew. At least the guy didn't have an accident and hurt someone else after he got shot in the leg.
  2. A Maine State Trooper was in a staff meeting and put his hand on his loaded holstered gun to move it. This movement resulted in a discharge of the weapon, lucking not hurting anyone. It makes me all the more relieved that none of the holstered loaded guns accidentally discharged in the Minnesota Senate Hearing room last week. I think maybe incidents like this could change the idea that carrying those loaded guns around in the Capitol is perfectly safe.
  3. As we now know, the NRA's solution to stopping school shootings is to arm teachers and other school personnel with guns. How is that working so far? A Texas school custodian shot himself in the leg during a training session on how to handle and shoot a gun in case of a school shooting. Surely everyone in that school will be a lot safer with armed custodians and/or teachers to save the day.
The incidents above are exactly why we need to research the danger of owning and carrying loaded guns. The public deserves to know that these things are happening. Injuries and deaths often occur with accidental gun discharges. I have written way too many times about them. But common sense tells us that we should be able to do something to change the occurrence of these potentially dangerous situations. With research, we might find out that having a gun around the house for self defense is not a good idea. We might find out that guns can be made safer with some new features that have been suggested before such as automatic trigger locks, "smart guns" that will only allow the owner of the gun to shoot it, or with a ban on high capacity magazines of over 10 bullets we might see mass shootings occur less frequently or at the least result in fewer deaths. As an aside, I think it's perfectly insane that we imagine fewer people being shot in a mass shooting. There should be NO mass shootings and NO people shot in them.

And, finally, passing new laws to make us safer is just plain a good idea. In addition to doing more research into the danger of guns, we need to actually prevent the shootings in the first place. It appears that the gun rights extremists will go to any end to stop that from happening, too. Check out what they are doing in states where reasonable gun laws are under consideration, including my own state of Minnesota. If this is how a democracy works, we have a problem. People who are supporting common sense gun laws are only trying to make us all safer and free from gun violence in our communities. Yet, the gun rights extremists are so threatened by laws that won't take away their rights or their guns that they are willing to make threats to get their way. In what country are we living again? Extremism is not pretty. Fear and paranoia, ramped up by NRA lobbyists, can lead some people to do stupid and potentially dangerous things. We are better than this and we need to demand a plan from our elected leaders to do something about senseless shootings. Passing stronger gun laws and allowing research on the effects of guns and gun violence are two ways to do that. Let's get to work.


I ran across this great blog about what's going on in Texas concerning guns, ammunition and stupid and dangerous gun owners. I hope you like it. It's the gun rights extremists and the gun culture run amok. But they don't seem to get how stupid and dangerous they are. That makes it even worse. And that is why I am going to share some of this blog with you:
Let’s start our tour in Lubbock, where a sporting goods store stocks ammunition every Friday. Demand is so high that customers line up before the store opens. Last Friday, a 51-year-old man got so frustrated at people cutting in line ahead of him that he pulled his gun. No one was hurt, and police charged him with aggravated assault, but to be fair he did call “no cuts.”
Things ended badly in Hidalgo County on Monday when a 54-year-old man told deputies he’d been kidnapped in broad daylight and shot. Turns out he shot himself because he had money problems. The local sheriff might press charges, and the gunshot apparently did not solve the man’s financial difficulties.
In Corral City, where a man and a woman’s drunken evening of playing “quick draws” ended when he accidentally shot his girlfriend, who initially told police that she shot herself while cleaning her .44 Ruger Vaquero. It’s all fun and games until you accidentally shoot your girlfriend. Police charged the boyfriend with aggravated assault.
The federal gun control push has brought boom times to people who teach concealed handgun safety courses. In fact, demand is so high in Texas to take concealed handgun classes that some are worried about lax training standards. “There are just some folks who probably shouldn’t be training other people,” said Travis Bond, who teaches handgun safety in the Dallas area. “I’ve seen safety issues, I’ve seen people cutting classes short…there just needs to be a lot more supervision.”
Rep. Dan Flynn, a Republican from tiny Van, would fix this problem by lowering the number of required training hours from 10 to four. “You spend a lot of time taking breaks, you spend a lot of time hearing stories,” Flynn said. “A lot of people who try to get their license, they have to take a day off of work, or they have to take a whole Saturday to go do this where, four hours, range time, you can do the same thing and it accomplishes it.”
Training standards aren’t the only thing Texas Republicans want to lower. Rep. Jeff Leachwants Texans to be able to buy firearms tax free on Texas Independence Day for two reasons: “yee” and “haw.” Obviously, the only way to stop a drunk gun owner with a bad cover story is to offer lower training standards and a tax break to the people the drunk gun owners haven’t shot yet.
With all the crossfire, it’s easy to lose sight of the dead kids from Sandy Hook Elementary who shocked us into having this national discussion about gun safety. Many Texas schools aren’t wasting any time arming their teachers, though they hit a little roadblock in Flynn’s Van onWednesday when they had a mishap at a district-sponsored handgun safety class. A malfunctioning handgun misfired, and a ricochet hit a school maintenance worker. He is in fair condition, and the school will continue arming employees. “We are going to go above and beyond on all-out training,” said the school superintendant, who was not shot.
Also addressing school safety is Republican James White’s bill to allow schools to offer an elective on firearms. Though the class would require students to use guns, White said, “You could go to any high school today and you’ll see them engaging in many what we would consider probably dangerous activities: Welding, auto mechanic, weight lifting, playing sports.”
You really can't make this stuff up, folks.


  1. "smart guns" that will only allow the owner of the gun to shoot it,"
    I think you'd find many racing to buy a "smart gun" if it can be proven to reliably operate when needed. My benchmark for this would be when police officers are required to carry them. However police officers wont use them until they pass as being reliable.

    "One failure one time on the range and I would have no interest in ever carrying that gun again," said Mitch Barker, executive director of Washington state's Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs."

    1. And Mark, if we don't research these technologies, we will never know how effective they are. That's my point.

  2. It's so obvious. How do you keep people in the dark about gun violence? Just forbid any government entity from studying the issue. Then, when academics publish statistics of their own in peer-reviewed, internationally reviewed medical journals, just argue that they are "biased" and that their sample size is too small (even if it's thousands), unlike the government, which would collect data from the entire nation. And, of course, every study on the issue finds the same results: guns in the home or on your body are overwhelmingly more likely to be used to harm you or your family than to be used to protect you.

    It's sorta like how North Carolina, facing rising sea levels on their coast decided to pass a bill forbidding any study of rising sea levels or global climate change of any sort except by one department, which uses out of date data and a prediction model that is far milder than those used by climatologists.

    They might as well just plug their ears and yell "lalalalala!" at the top of their lungs, as juvenile as this is. Sadly, people keep dying from shootings at the same rate. The status quo is horrifying. Change is needed, and it is coming.

  3. "Then, when academics publish statistics of their own in peer-reviewed, internationally reviewed medical journals, just argue that they are "biased" and that their sample size is too small (even if it's thousands), unlike the government, which would collect data from the entire nation."

    How about if the sample is in the hundreds? Would that be considered large enough? The bias goes in both directions both pro and anti-gun. As you can see below, the 40% private gun sale figure was arrived at through a sample size in the hundreds.
    Congress passed the no funds for gun research because of the perception of anti-gun bias in the studies. So then the question is, how do you ensure that there is no bias in any study, even government funded ones? The anti-gun groups find fault in studies by Lott and Kleck, and the pro-gun side does the same with studies such as the one you mention regarding the study regarding guns in the home, or press realeases by VPC or those sponsored by Mr. Bloomberg.
    Unless this perceived bias seen by both sides can be controled, studies be government entities will be questioned just like the privately funded ones.

    "Bloomberg’s office pointed us to a 1997 study by the National Institute of Justice on who owns guns and how they use them.The researchers estimated that about 40 percent of all firearm sales took place through people other than licensed dealers. They based their conclusion on data from a 1994 survey of more than 2,500 households. But it’s important to note that of the 2,568 households surveyed, only 251 people answered the question about the origin of their gun."

  4. Indeed. This is the very reason we need more recent and better studies. That is my point, of course, which you continue to ignore. I did find this quote pretty interesting from the article- " Gary Kleck, whose research has provided the foundation for less restrictive concealed carry laws, told PolitiFact the 40 percent estimate is "probably still reasonably valid today.""

    Gary Kleck is a pro gun rights person. You should agree with him, right?