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.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blocking the gun debate?

The Republicans are trying to hide from having to vote on a common sense gun bill. Why? Ask them. Here they are. What are the 14 Senators who say they will filibuster the omnibus gun bill thinking? They aren't, I guess. I have not heard many people who have not been outraged by this boorish and insensitive behavior. When even the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, joins the filibuster threat, you know it is an unusual situation. What is so unusual? Let's start with the fact that 20 first graders were massacred on 12/14. That was unusual. That requires unusual solutions. Of course, in every country but America, passing reasonable gun laws after a horrific massacre like that of 12/14 is a no brainer and nothing unusual. But this is America. Apparently these Senators don't care about those victims and their families who are demanding a vote. Many in their own party are saying no to a filibuster and talking about how ludicrous it is to deny a vote on the floor after what happened at Sandy Hook elementary school. From the article:
"Let this come to a debate ... Even if it doesn't go down the way I want it to, I think the American people are entitled to a debate. To me, to use Senate rules to block a debate on an issue of this importance is just wrong," said King on CNN on Tuesday morning. "It's not like something is trying to be snuck through here. This is something that warrants a full and open debate."
King supports universal background checks, unlike many members of his party. But he said that even if he didn't have that position, he would still support allowing the bill come to the Senate floor.
"To stifle debate and cut it off almost makes it as if these senators are afraid of something," said King. "I don't know what they're afraid of. If they're so sure of their position, let it come to a debate."
Strengthening background checks for gun sales is enormously popular with the public. A recent poll found that nine in 10 Americans favor universal background checks.
Representative King understands that the public has spoken and the public is expecting that the Senate will vote on an issue of such great import and such great support. Too bad his colleagues just don't get it.

The President understands this. He understood it on 12/14. He understood it when he first went to Newtown, Connecticut to speak at the memorial for the victims. And he understood it Monday in his powerful and passionate speech in Hartford. 

Senator Harry Reid gets it. He wants a vote and a debate which could begin later this week. From the article:
The emerging deal would expand required federal background checks to sales at gun shows and online, but exempt transactions like face-to-face, non-commercial purchases, said several Senate aides and lobbyists who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private talks.
Currently, the checks are required only for sales through licensed gun dealers.
On the Senate floor, Reid pointed to a poster-sized photo of a white picket fence that had slats bearing the names of the Newtown victims.
"We have a responsibility to safeguard these little kids," said Reid, D-Nev. "And unless we do something more than what's the law today, we have failed."
"We don't have the guts to stand up and vote yes or no? We want to vote maybe? Tell that to the families in Newtown" and other communities where there have been mass shootings, said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
But Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, one of 13 conservative senators who signed a letter promising to try blocking debate, said the Senate bill puts "burdens on law abiding citizens exercising a constitutional right." He said none of its provisions "would have done anything to prevent the horrible tragedy of Sandy Hook."
Nonsense, Senator Cruz. That is the oldest trick in the book. If we pass this law, it won't stop all of the bad things from happening. I have an idea. Let's not pass any laws just in case they won't work or won't affect change. That kind of talk is cynical and bogus. If Adam Lanza had had smaller ammunition magazines with him, like the 10 and 20 round magazines he left at home, at the least, more Newtown children would be alive today. If a universal background check provision were in place, people who shouldn't be able to buy guns would have had to look harder to get them. Why make it easy for people to get deadly weapons? That is why we require background checks for buyers at licensed dealers. There is a reason for that provision in our laws. As a country, we recognize that certain people shouldn't have access to guns. It works. Felons and adjudicated mentally ill people do try to buy guns from licensed dealers. They have been stopped over 1 million times since the FBI's system was put into place. This article highlights how many felons and others have been stopped from buying guns from licensed dealers since the NICS system started working just in the state of Virginia alone. The system works as it was designed to do by law. And that's a fact. Isn't it just plain common sense that if something is already working to stop felons and others from getting guns when buying from a licensed dealer, that expanding those same background checks to private sellers would do the same thing?

Let's deal in facts here, Senator Cruz. If people like Nancy Lanza weren't convinced by the NRA lobbyists that she needed an assault type rifle for self defense or hunting ( which she didn't) maybe she wouldn't have bought that kind of gun. There are many ways in which passing stronger gun laws would reduce and prevent senseless shootings. If we pass new laws we may just change the gun culture which might make people think twice about buying all of these guns in the first place. Just maybe, Senator Cruz, fewer massacres of little children would take place. But if you are protecting the gun industry instead of protecting children, you won't do the right thing. And what in the world are you and your friends in the Senate so afraid of? Why don't you want to take a vote on whether or not we can make our country a safer place? How often have you spoken to the NRA lobbyists in the past few months? How much money has the NRA funneled your way?

And speaking of NRA supported lawmakers, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe seems to think that the Sandy Hook parents were convinced by President Obama to lobby Congress to pass reasonable gun laws. He thinks that the gun debate has nothing to do with them or the lost lives of their massacred children. The thing is, it has everything to do with these parents and the memories of their dead children. I was on a Facebook page last night where one of the Sandy Hook parents commented that the parents of these murdered children shouldn't have to beg our Congress members to do the right thing. She is right. They should just do the right thing because they want to stop little children from being massacred while sitting in school doing what little children are supposed to be doing. From the article:
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said Tuesday that the gun control debate doesn't have anything to do with the families of the Newtown, Conn., shooting victims, and that the only reason those families think it does is because President Barack Obama told them it did.
Eleven family members of Newtown victims were in Washington on Tuesday, meeting privately with senators to urge them to support a forthcoming gun package that would impose tighter background checks, crack down on gun trafficking and enhance school safety measures. Speaking to a handful of reporters, Inhofe said he feels bad for those families because they're being used as pawns in a political fight.
"See, I think it's so unfair of the administration to hurt these families, to make them think this has something to do with them when, in fact, it doesn't," Inhofe said.
When it was suggested that the families of Newtown victims actually believe the gun debate pertains to them, Inhofe said, "Well, that's because they've been told that by the president."
I have never thought that the Senator from Oklahoma had much common sense. But really, could he be any more embarrassing to himself or his party? Who could possibly believe that losing a child to a horrific gun massacre wouldn't activate you to stop the next one? In the name and memory of the children, these parents want action. They want to save other parents from their anguish and grief. That is natural. President Obama didn't have to tell them anything. Senator Inhofe should take a seat and be quiet for the duration. He has nothing of any worth to offer to this discussion. In fact, he has just made it worse. His insulting statements put the NRA sponsored lawmakers right in the spotlight for their lies and innuendos. Shame on him and the other Senators who are putting gun rights, the gun industry and their own elections and money ahead of saving the lives of innocent children who went off to school on 12/14 and didn't come home again. We are better than this.

But there is hope that the public opinion and public pressure is finally getting to at least some of our Senators. Today there will be a press conference to announce a potential deal between "Blue Dog" Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and conservative Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, a "Blue" state where a strong majority of residents on all sides of the issue favor background checks on all gun sales. Enough is enough. Let's get to work.


There is going to be a "filibuster the filibuster" today outside of the U.S. Capitol. It is sponsored by the many gun violence prevention groups working on common sense gun laws. From the article:
Gun control supporters and survivors of gun violence are gathering Wednesday in the Capitol to read the names of the 3,300 killed from guns since the Newtown shootings and protest a potential filibuster of gun legislation.
"Until the Senate agrees to debate and vote on legislation to prevent gun violence, families of victims and survivors of gun violence will stand up to give voice to those who have been senselessly murdered since Newtown by reading the names of each person who has been killed," reads a release from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Coalition To Stop Gun Violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Newtown Action Alliance, Project End Gun Violence and Protest Easy Guns.
While the names are read in Washington, a parallel reading of the names of those killed by gun violence will take place in Newtown, Conn., outside the city's Edmond Town Hall.
The protest could be an emotional and powerful answer to the Republican senators who have called for a filibuster before a vote on gun control legislation even happens.
Real people are dying every day in America. If you don't believe this is happening, read this great blog from Joe Nocera of the New York Times. He is keeping track of daily shootings in "The Gun Report." This report shows how many accidental shootings are happening every day as well as homicides. Suicides are not usually reported in the media so there are many more incidents of gun deaths that are not reported in this blog. If people start understanding the devastation caused to families and communities all over this country from guns and bullets, they might just get louder about demanding change to our laws and changes to our gun culture. This is just plain not acceptable any more. We are tired of this. It's time for action.


  1. "Joe Manchin of West Virginia and conservative Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, a "Blue" state where a strong majority of residents on all sides of the issue favor background checks on all gun sales."

    Fox News is saying that the hoped for compromise bill looks a lot like one of the bills that have been introduced in our state. It would require background checks for Internet sales and sales at gun shows. But still allow private sales to be unaffected. As in Minnesota, the NRA has stated that the compromise is unacceptable. It will be interesting to see what the other side of the debate says.

    One challenge will also be the possibility of an end run in the form of introducing the original bill as an amendment, again, as is being attempted in our state legislature.

  2. Here is a message to Charles5. What do you mean by your question? I need more information.

  3. I stumbled across this blog and rad the post above. I was wondering if you would care to discuss a few of the points made or if any rebuttal I post would just be ignored. I'm not looking for any angry name calling, but an intelligent discussion of the realities and facts at hand. There are a huge number misconceptions out there about guns that I believe handicap those that seek to expand gun control. I only wish to enlighten you and correct any misconceptions you might have.

    1. Charles, I publish reasonable comments on this blog. I am educated about the issue of guns and work with gun owners on the issue. I am not sure you could enlighten me but go ahead and try. I don't know everything about guns. That doesn't matter. I know that too many people are shot to death by the bullets that come from them every day.

  4. Fair enough. First of all, I am a gun owner and have been for several years. I have had professional training on firearms and I have handled a shot a wide variety firearms. I own several of the firearms that are the focus of intense debate over whether or not they should be banned. Several of my handguns have standard capacity magazines of 15 to 17 rounds. I also own an AR15 (by the way, the AR does not stand for Assault Rifle. It is an abbreviation for Armalite, the first major company to market the civilian version of the M16 Rifle. The AR has been applied to all guns of this type the same way Kleenex is used to refer to all brands of tissue) I also own a number of the accompanying 30 round magazines that many people would like to see banned. I am very passionate about my Second Amendment rights as I believe they are an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution. I say all of this so that you understand where I am coming from. That being said, I do not see pro gun control people as the enemy. I honestly believe that the vast majority of them are trying to do the right thing and truly wish to end gun violence. That being said, however, I also believe that many of them are handicapped by an overwhelming amount of misperception and misinformation out there. I don’t blame them for feeling the way they do. If I believed a lot of this misinformation was the truth, I would be standing right alongside them. However, I know some things that people that have never been to gun shows, purchased, or even handled a gun probably would not be aware of. Let me first address a few things in original post. I will make my points in separate posts as not to exceed the html limit.

    1. Charles- I do actually know these things. I have been to gun shows. I have seen the private sellers at gun shows. More on this in the next comment post. I appreciate that you are trying to educate me but I am not a dummy nor naive about this stuff. You seem to think that only people on my side of the issue have misperceptions and misinformation. You will see in my comments to your next post that that is not true.

  5. First topic. Background checks on internet and gun show sales. Honestly, this proposal is a joke and nothing more than political posturing to make it look like “We did something!” Why? Because those checks are already in place. First, let’s look at internet sales. I think a lot of people picture internet sales as someone ordering all sorts of weapons, unchecked, and having them delivered to their front door. That isn’t the way it works. It is illegal to ship a firearm to someone that is not an FFL (a Federal Firearm Licensee, i.e. a licensed dealer). Anyone can ship a firearm, but it must be delivered to someone who is an FFL. So, here is how the process of internet sales works (I have done this several times myself). A person goes to the website of the online retailer. They choose the gun they want, add it to their cart and then place their order. The firearm WILL NOT, I repeat, WILL NOT be shipped directly to the purchaser. The purchaser must select from a list of local FFL’s that the retailer already has on record to have the firearm shipped to. You can’t make up an address and pretend it is an FFL. The retailer must have a copy of the FFL’s documentation on file before they will ship the firearm to that FFL. The retailer takes the payment and the firearm is shipped to the FFL that the purchaser chose. The next step is that the local FFL receives the firearm and must immediately record it into his/her inventory as the firearm has been legally transferred to their custody. When the purchaser comes in to pick up the weapon, they must complete a, wait for it… BACKGROUND CHECK, just like any other purchase. The FFL will usually charge a $25 - $75 transfer fee in addition to any state fees associated with processing the background check. If the person that comes in to claim the weapon is not the same person as the one who ordered it, they will be turned away. In summary, background checks already occur for internet sales.

    Now, let’s look at gun shows. I think a lot of people that have never been to a gun show see it as a big room full of people making under the table sales with no background checks. Not the case. Gun shows are rooms full of LICENSED DEALERS that are required to perform both state and Federal background checks on ALL sales BEFORE the firearm is transferred to the purchaser. There is no difference between buying a gun from a dealer at a show and buying one in their store. I have been going to gun shows for years and I can count on my hands the number of private sales I have seen occur at gun shows. 99.999999% of gun show sales are through licensed dealers where background checks ARE conducted. There is also no difference between a private sale at a gun show and one that happens in a person’s home. There is no such thing as a gun show “loophole.” The reason gun shows are so popular is not because of these phony “loopholes.” It is because a person can see and shop through a lot of different guns that they would not normally see in the local shops. Buying guns is a lot like cars. Everyone has preferences with respect to brand, style, capabilities, handling, etc. Handling a gun can tell you a lot about whether or not you like it. That’s what gun shows are all about, SHOWING different choices and options all in one place.

    I have some other points to make, but I will stop here and allow you to question or rebut anything I just said. Thank you for listening.

    1. First of all, it is not true that all internet sales go through FFLs for pick up by the buyer. The New York Times posted this today, which is the facts. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/11/us/gun-law-loopholes-let-buyers-skirt-background-checks.html?hp

      You should read the article. You might learn a few things. The shooter in the domestic shooting at the Wisconsin spa last summer got his gun through a private seller on armslist.com. The seller met him in the parking lot and transferred the gun with no background check. He was a prohibited purchaser. Hidden camera videos have shown other such transactions. At gunshows there are numerous hidden camera videos of people going to private sellers at gun shows and saying they can't pass a background check and they get their guns anyway. They pay cash and out the door they go. One of the gun owners with whom I work did this twice at Minnesota gun shows. He explicitly told the seller he couldn't pass a background check and the seller said that was not a problem. He still has the assault rifle he purchased and has brought it with him to the legislature to show how easy it was for him to buy this gun with no background check. It is simply not true that people at gun shows are all licensed sellers who require background checks. I believe you are misinformed if that is what you think. If there is no difference between private sellers at gun shows and private sellers in their homes, then we should be requiring background checks on ALL gun sales- even private sellers in homes. Because we know it's true that people who shouldn't have guns can get them easily at gun shows with no background check, why that not be true for people selling out of their homes? A universal background check would actually protect law abiding gun sellers from selling to someone who is prohibited. I would think that would be a good thing for the seller. I don't believe any seller wants to sell to someone who is prohibited and could kill someone with that gun. But how do they know if they don't do a background check. How would you feel if a gun you sold to someone was used to shoot innocent people? Background checks work actually. Many felons and adjudicated mentally ill people have tried to buy guns from FFLS and have been rejected. That we know to be true. We know that criminals try to get their guns that way. So why not stop them at all points of sale? How does that hurt you? Are you law abiding?

    2. And Charles- FYI- you seem to be new to my blog. I have had these "discussions" with many people just like you repeatedly on this blog. You are not providing me with new information or new arguments. They are the same ones I respond to on a daily basis on this blog.

    3. Dear Charles, You have sent me a very long and rambling comment to which I have responded repeatedly on this blog in the past. I don't have time or patience to get into yet another debate with you. What I believe is contained in my blog. I know you likely don't agree. I give all the reasons and provide links and good reasons for my belief. You have reasons for yours. There is no sense debating points that neither of us will budge on. But briefly in response to your comment which I am not publishing because it is like your own blog- You may be a law abiding and ask for various IDs, etc. from private buyers but many do not. I don't know why you won't admit to that when there is adequate proof. Requiring background checks on private sales will do no harm to a law abiding citizen. I don't believe you can prove that it would. It will only make it harder for those who shouldn't have a gun to get one. That is what this is all about. It is not about you, apparently. But not everyone is like you. It is just mind boggling to me that you can't see that there is a documented problem with our background check system and that the bill now before the Senate is for the express purpose of fixing that problem. It is not intended to punish you or others like you who are law abiding. For goodness sake, do you think the current daily carnage is acceptable? If not, you will agree with 2 NRA A rated Senators who just came to a reasonable compromise on background checks. It is not enough. But it has a chance to pass and it will make a difference. This is about saving lives.