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, May 13, 2013

Gun contradictions

Yesterday, the Northland Chapter of Protect Minnesota/Brady Campaign held a March to End Gun Violence along our Lakewalk. Over 100 people came to show support for common sense gun laws. If it wasn't for the more sobering end to the event, when many people came forward to ring our bell at the Memorial Bell Garden in memory of a lost loved one, it was almost festive. There were signs, flags, balloons, kids, babies, dogs, bikes and people of all ages. A glaring contradiction amongst the gun extremists is that they are patriotic and love their country and the Constitution and we don't. Not true. We love America and our flag. We love the people of America enough that we don't want them to get shot to death. But I digress. There were speakers at the rally at the end of the march in support of our legislators passing the gun background check bill sitting before them. So far, they have refused to bring it to the floor of the Minnesota House for a vote.

Shame on them all for failing to bring forward a bill that is supported by a large majority of
Minnesotans. Too controversial? If so, why did they get up their courage to vote in favor of a Marriage Amendment bill to legalize marriage for same sex couples?  This was a tremendous and very welcome vote. It was passionate and focused and gratifying to see. I applaud our legislators for doing the right thing. The very same legislators who were willing to vote against a popular gun background check bill voted in favor of this bill. Why? Today the bill passed in the Minnesota Senate and will be signed into law. Minnesota will be the 12th state in the nation to pass a marriage equality bill. I am proud to be a Minnesotan and this is a great day for all of us but most especially for my gay/lesbian friends and a few relatives. There was a lot of talk about the courage it took for some to vote for this bill and a lot of chants of "We have your back." Yes, indeed. It does take courage to do the right thing sometimes. And the same would be true for a very simple background check bill. It shouldn't take so much courage but when up against armed citizens who are funded by the ever present NRA, some legislators lose their nerve. I watched as the celebration took place at the Minnesota Capitol Rotunda this afternoon. It brought me to tears. I would be surprised if there wasn't one person in that rotunda who was against the background check bill. We will work to make sure those folks join us in our fight to do the right thing for gun violence victims and stop the contradictions.

People should be able to have marches, walks, runs, parades, rallies and vigils without fear of being shot. Some of the Minnesota gun rights extremists made some noise about showing up at our events armed. They didn't come but we were ready. Not with our guns, but with our passion and a well placed police officer. Sure, openly carrying guns is legal in the public park where our event was held and on the street corner where the Minneapolis group held a vigil on Saturday. But why? What in the world is so dangerous about a walk in a public park where families are gathered? Apparently the most danger comes from those armed folks themselves. At a Mother's Day parade in New Orleans, one or more armed people thought it was OK to shoot at people marching in the parade. 19 were injured, including 2 children.  From the article:
Security camera video released today by New Orleans police appears to capture the moment when a gunman opened fire on a crowd at a Mother's Day parade. Nineteen people were wounded, including two children.
Video images show a man in a white T-shirt waiting by a house as the procession goes by, running up to the crowd and opening fire at close range.
The crowd instantly scatters and flees from the suspect, who keeps his gun elevated as people run away, some falling to the street. The gunman then runs away. It's not clear if he was targeting a particular person.
No arrests had been announced as of today.
Ten men, seven women, and a girl and a boy both age 10, were hit when gunmen opened fire at the parade. Police said they were looking for three suspects, adding that a motive for the shooting was unknown.
Two victims underwent surgery and the children were grazed but in good condition, police said on Sunday. It was unclear if the victims were marching or watching the parade.
Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas has said a witness reported hearing two different types of gunshots, indicating two weapons were involved.
The FBI attributed the incident to "street violence," not terrorism.
Serpas told reporters that officers saw three suspects running away, with one about age 18 to 22.
"It appears that these two or three people, for reasons unknown to us, started shooting at, towards or in the crowd," Serpas said, adding that the incident was over in "just a couple of seconds."
Mayor Mitch Landrieu called the shooting part of "the relentless drum beat of violence" on the streets of New Orleans.
"It's a culture of violence that has enveloped the city for a long, long period of time," Landrieu told a news conference outside University Hospital, where three victims were being treated for serious injuries.
This could have been so much worse. There is a culture of violence in New Orleans and some other American cities. But what are we doing about it? Street guns or illegal guns start out as legal purchases and end up in the illegal market because they are stolen, because of straw purchasing, because of private purchases with no background checks. Are we passing laws that could stop some of this? No. It's time we do. Why don't we? With all of this violence on our streets and in our communities, why does the gun lobby work so fiercely against laws that could help prevent some of the violence?  If they are so scared of all of those folks on the streets with their guns that they have to buy their own to protect themselves, why not do something about the first problem? A contradiction for sure. Unless you connect the dots to the gun industry and making sure it continues to profit from gun sales.

Here is another contradiction. You may remember the campaign in California and Washington state for the gun advocates to carry their openly holstered guns into Starbucks stores and other such shops. They insisted it was their right and they were perfectly safe. They just don't get it do they? Who wants people with guns around in places where they are relaxing with friends and family? These folks were advocating for unloaded holstered guns. Why? What good is a gun if it's unloaded when your point is that you may have to use it for protection? Merely a show by the gun guys. After this "protest" and the reaction to it by the Brady Campaign and other groups, this incident happened at a Wyoming Starbucks. And then other groups decided to protest guns in Starbucks stores nation-wide so, of course, the gun guys decided to launch their own counter campaign to encourage people with guns to go to Starbucks stores. Whatever. Their message is flawed. Not only have there been very rare, if any incidents, of people with guns saving customers or themselves at a Starbucks or similar store, but the opposite has happened. I have written about guns discharging in public places before here and here. And the most famous shooting at a coffee shop happened when an armed man shot and killed four armed police officers near Tacoma, Washington, thereby lending a lie to the fact that being armed in a public place will protect you. And now, another accidental gun discharge has occurred at a Florida Starbucks. 

When do we think Starbucks will re-think allowing loaded guns in their stores? Perhaps when a lawsuit happens? Follow the money.

Guns are dangerous. The more of them carried into more public places the more we will see incidents such as this. Again, check out Ohh Shoot ( where 2 recent entries are people accidentally discharging loaded guns at gun shops) for much more about this. The media is beginning to notice that law abiding gun owners can be dangerous with their guns in public places and even at home. Accidental shootings are being recorded by more than one source. For instance, over at Accidental Shootings, a running report is being kept. Also, I have referred previously here to the blog, The Gun Report by Joe Nocera of the New York Times in which he reports on the shootings he knows about over a week-end or several days' time. Here is the most recent from Mother's Day week-end. Shootings of all kinds occurred in many different states. There were homicides, kids shooting other kids, people shooting people marching in parades, domestic shootings, police shootings, drive-by shootings, gang shootings, etc. They took place in New York, Minnesota, North Carolina, California, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Delaware, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Idaho, Maryland, South Carolina, Iowa, Kentucky and Indiana. And yet, some of the gun rights extremists believe that shootings are only amongst gang members or in the inner city of large cities. They just aren't happening where they live- wherever that may be. But they happen everywhere and anytime. The denial of reality is just not working any more now that so many people are reporting on actual shootings.

What about guns in the home for self defense? What the gun lobby doesn't want you to know is how often they are used by children for suicide by gun or in accidental shootings. ( not to mention shootings of women in domestic abuse cases but that is for another post). Remember to check out the Kid Shootings blog for much more about kids and guns and gun deaths. And so, here is a new article- yet another- showing how far too often, those guns owned for self defense are used by children in accidental shootings. From the article:
He didn't know the gun was loaded.
The 14-year-old Massachusetts boy had recently found his mother's handgun, which she kept hidden under her mattress for protection.
"Promise me you'll never touch it," his mother, a single mom, had asked him.
But the lure of the gun was irresistible. He decided to show it off to his neighbor, 12-year-old Brian Crowell.
"He was going, 'Click, click, click,'" pretending to shoot the gun, says Brian's mother, Ann Marie Crowell, who spoke to the child and his mother after the incident. "But there was one last bullet. It went into Brian's neck."
And just like that, Crowell's son was gone.
Nearly 800 children under 14 were killed in gun accidents from 1999 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly one in five injury-related deaths in children and adolescents involve firearms.
Enough said. More contradictions. Wouldn't you think that all of this would be embarrassing for the gun lobby and their apologists? In fact, these incidents usually fly under the radar. Most people don't know about the daily shootings unless it's happened to them or someone they know- or in their own community. When informed, they are often surprised. For example, when I told a young couple pushing a baby in a stroller at the march on Sunday, that in Minnesota it's legal for gun permit holders to carry their guns openly, they were not only surprised, but horrified. That is because the NRA has been so clever that they manage to pass things in bills that go unnoticed or fly "under the radar." So when someone carrying a gun in a Starbucks store accidentally shoots a customer, it's an eye opener. Most reasonable people don't need guns in public nor do they want them in public. It's about 2-3% of Americans who carry guns in public and who assume that all shootings are committed by prior criminals, "low lifes" or gangs and so they feel a need for their guns to protect themselves from these same folks.

I say enough is enough. We need the facts. We need common sense. We need our leaders to stop being beholden to the NRA and to start listening to what the majority is telling them. I see the tide changing. The more crazy the gun rights extremists get, as in this video from The Rachel Maddow Show, the more we can see how unreasonable and nuts these folks are.

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We are better than this. Such paranoia has no place in America. It is leading to craziness and to people stock piling guns, fear of government, potential tyranny and domestic terrorism and who knows what else? The exposure of this craziness is helping to inform the public about the extreme positions of some on the far right. And the more facts we have, the better we can be at dispelling the myths. But will it be in time? Will this stupid and dangerous talk lead to further problems? Time will tell. The fact that our leaders are not doing anything to prevent senseless shootings and acts of violence is irresponsible. As long as the extreme gun culture is allowed to get away with this kind of behavior and rhetoric, we are the worse for it as a country. It's time to demand that our leaders act in the best interest of public health and safety. Lives depend on it.


The shooter at the New Orleans Mother's Day parade has been identified. From this article:
New Orleans Police Supt. Ronal Serpas said the department is searching for Akein Scott, 19.
Serpas said an arrest warrant has been issued for Scott, and said he was positively identified by more than one person.
Search warrants were executed at three addresses Monday night, where police hoped to find Scott. Those efforts were unsuccessful.
Serpas urged Scott to turn himself in to authorities.
"We are coming to find him. We will find him," Serpas said.
Scott has two previous arrests, according to Sheriff's Office records. In February 2012, he was arrested and charged with illegal possession of a stolen firearm. In April of that year, the district attorney refused the charges.
In March of this year, he was arrested and charged with resisting an officer, illegally carrying weapons, possession of heroin and illegal possession of stolen firearms and illegally carrying weapons with controlled dangerous substance.
Based on court records, all the charges were refused, except for illegally carrying a weapon with a controlled dangerous substance. His bond was set at $15,000 on that charge.
He was officially indicted on April 22 on that charge, records show. He was set to appear in court on Thursday.
How and why did this young man keep getting guns illegally? Something needs to change to get these guns off the street along with the people who buy, steal and sell them. Gun laws can make a difference. Let's get to work.


There were rallies all over the country last week-end, drawing hundreds of supporters. But, of course, the gun guys had to show up as if the rallies were theirs. This one in Pennsylvania drew the usual nonsensical NRA promoted signs and protests from armed citizens:
Steve Kesselman of Holland raised his voice above the crowd to briefly talk about the loss of his 20-year-old son from a deadly shotgun blast after an argument last year. 
“My son is dead! His mother cannot enjoy him anymore because of gun violence! Universal background checks is all we’re looking for. I have nothing against guns!” Kesselman yelled into the microphone.
“Do you believe in unicorns?!” a pro-gun supporter yelled from the crowd.
When Kesselman was done speaking, many erupted in applause and some personally came up to him and his wife, Sheryl, to thank them.
“I think it’s ridiculous the way they’ve been acting. I’m so numb to the idiots out there,” he said of the gun supporters.
The rally in Morrisville culminated in a Pre-Mother’s Day Gathering, March and Rally against Gun Violence organized by the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.
The event forced the cancellation of several Little League games that that had been scheduled for the same time at the park.
The group coordinated the rally to raise awareness of the need for new gun safety legislation, despite the recent failure of the U.S. Senate to pass new gun safety laws.
“The message is that we are persisting in our advocacy for common-sense gun safety laws and first and foremost about that is universal background checks,” said the Rev. Robert Moore, executive director of the Coalition for Peace Action. (...) 
Gun owners from groups such as Concerned Gun Owners of Bucks County, the National Rifle Association and a New Jersey group called the NJ2As gathered at Williamson Park before the marchers arrived. Many wore guns and rifles.
Though a borough ordinance forbids firearms in the park, state law allows citizens the right to carry firearms and state law supersedes the borough ordinance, Chief Herron said.
Scott Smith of Narberth attended the rally but left his pistol and shotgun home out of respect for the borough ordinance.
He is against universal background checks. “We could outlaw guns and still have problems,” Smith said. “No background check in America would have stopped Adam Lanza,” he said, referring to the man who killed 26 people, including 20 children, in the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last year.
Dennis Cioffi of Berlin, N.J., said he attended the rally because New Jersey gun owners already have laws that are too stringent and he wanted to support Pennsylvania gun owners.
“Every one of us (New Jersey) gun owners has had multiple background checks. I was checked three times!” Cioffi said.
Steve Scheetz of Tullytown said he was there to support gun owners. He said all Americans should be trained in self defense, including the use of firearms.
“We’re living in a world where people want to kill us,” said Scheetz, who owns two guns.
Jason Gass of Royersford said: “My simple message is the right to keep and bear arms should not be infringed upon.”
The rally ended with Rev. Moore telling the crowd that gun safety is not a partisan issue.
“The vast majority of gun owners are responsible gun owners and I want to thank you right here in public for being responsible,” Moore told the crowd. “The problem is that some gun owners are not responsible. This is about human suffering.”
The man who was checked three times must be suffering terribly for that inconvenience. Come on. People want to kill us? Who is the guy talking about? People are killing us at the rate of 32 gun homicides a day.  But most of these are not random shootings by criminals. Most are domestic or people who know each other in some way. The Newtown shooting was horrific but actually more unusual than the every day shootings in America. And the idea that a gun background check would not have prevented the Newtown shooting so let's not prevent the many others we could prevent is specious and ludicrous. We have to make sense or nothing else will matter.


  1. The Constitution states as its purposes is to "form a more perfect Union...insure domestic Tranquility". It also makes it pretty clear that insurrection is not Constitutional.

    I am not sure how anyone can reasonably reconcile the Constitution with placing the nation in civil war.

    So far, no one has been able to do this in a sane manner.

  2. "Beck told police that her father had given her the .25 caliber semi-automatic a while back and she had forgotten that she put the pistol -- which was in a small gun bag -- inside one of her spare purses. She switched purses before her shopping trip with Peterson and forgot the gun was inside the bottom of that purse."

    Sounds like the same excuse that was used by the Chicago politician to explain how he got arrested trying to board a plane with a gun.

    "Scaduto said that Trotter explained to officers he uses the .25-caliber Beretta handgun for his job with a security company. She said he told them that he'd worked until midnight the night before and that he'd forgotten the gun and ammunition in his garment bag when he packed at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday."

    Now Ex-Senator Trotter was able to avoid conviction of a felony by a plea bargain. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor which will likely not affect his ability to possess a firearm. If we let a person avoid responsibility for messing up with a firearm, there is no motivation for them to take the responsibility of owning and carrying a firearm seriously. The same goes for people making straw purchases, and those that steal firearms.

  3. I concede that guns are dangerous. So why are you so opposed to firearms safety training for children? If it saves one life...

    I concede that guns are stolen and then used in crimes. Can you explain how background checks are going to stop traffic in stolen guns? Scott was in possession of stolen guns 3 times in the last 3 months that we know of. Why was he out on the streets? Why? Perhaps we should focus on putting people who do bad things in jail rather than messing with the citizens who are obeying the law. But Sarah Brady said that your organization wasn't interested in enforcing the existing laws.

    BTW, will you be supporting the Cuellar/Carter bill giving a tax credit for buying a gun safe?

    Surprisingly, I also agree that there is a lot of paranoia about guns leading to craziness in the US today. For example nobody needs to march along the lakefront. Nobody needs to cause noise pollution by ringing a bell. Oh, wait! There is that pesky 1st Amendment. Well, we need to compromise on reasonable restrictions. Suppose you had been shot while marching by a criminal with a gun? No, better to not take chances.

    1. OK- all the NRA talking points here. I am not opposed to gun safety training for children. It's a good thing. But it has little to do with the fact that kids still find guns in their homes and are curious. Are you proposing that we train 3 year olds to handle guns? The problem is not with the 12/13 year olds who get training to go hunting with their families. That's a good thing. Background checks may only stop someone who shouldn't have a gun from getting one in the first place. It could prevent some shootings. It won't stop stolen guns. Along with safe storage, measures to require reporting of lost and stolen guns, background checks on all sales can reduce and prevent gun violence. People like this guy should have been in jail but who knows what happened to keep him on the streets? Sarah Brady said no such thing. You make things up. I know nothing about the bill you are talking about. But people should buy a gun safe on their own just as they buy smoke alarms, etc. If there is a bill to give a tax credit for doing so, I would have to look at it. I am not a lawmaker.

      Noise pollution for ringing a bell? What the heck? You guys make up the silliest things when trying to defend your positions. You must be saying that all of those people in the parade in New Orleans could have defended themselves from the guy who was standing by a house and started shooting at them from behind. If you saw the video, you would see people scattering to save themselves from being shot. That is the usual reaction when these things happen. Apparently you fashion yourself as some sort of cowboy who has a gun at the ready to whip out of a holster to save the day. In real life, that is not how these things shake out.

      We are all about prevention in the first place, not waiting for things to happen and then taking our chances that someone with a gun just might be there at the right time in the right place. More guns have clearly not made us safer. Why your side won't agree to simple common sense measures that won't affect you is beyond the majority of Americans. You even admitted that we need to compromise on reasonable restrictions. What are those?

  4. "Well, in the first place, I don’t think many people feel that way unless you’re talking about are people prosecuted. I have heard complaints from the gun lobby about that. Because if they’re trying to purchase a gun and they were not able to, what the law does now – as far as it enforces it – is to not allow them to get a gun. And our main concern is not to prosecute these people as much as it is to have their complete background checked, so that anybody cannot buy a gun if they’re not qualified."

    Sarah Brady on NPR, March 16, 2013. So she in fact DOESN'T think it's important for people committing felonies to be prosecuted. Robin is correct. Of course you'll censor this, since you do so with every comment with which you disagree. But you will still see it and have to live with the fact that you are wrong.

    1. You have proven nothing, Douglas. Our MAIN GOAL is to prevent people from getting guns who shouldn't have them. She does not say we shouldn't prosecute people. You are grasping at ludicrous arguments to make a non-existent point. Nice try, though. I remind you that this is my blog. I can print or not print comments as I see fit. Many of the comments sent to me make no sense, do not contribute to the "discussion" or to enlightenment of my readers or are just plain too rude, offensive or mean to print.

  5. Dear Robin, Your lies will no longer be published on this blog. Whenever anyone lies about or makes rude and offensive comments about victims on this blog, they are not published. Your lies about Sarah Brady are just that, lies. Please troll on another blog.

  6. Let's set a few records straight. Robin, who is now banned from commenting on my blog, claimed that Sarah Brady made a straw purchase. Of course he lied and he believes in the NRA's ludicrous and offensive rhetoric. Shame on all of you for believing everything the right wing extreme media tells you. You need to start dealing with the facts. And here are the facts- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/653721/posts From the article: " A story in some early editions of yesterday's Daily News incorrectly reported that gun control advocate Sarah Brady may have skirted Delaware's gun laws when she bought a rifle for her adult son but did not declare who was going to own the weapon.

    The Delaware Department of Justice initially insisted to The News that gun purchasers must declare who the weapon was intended for so that person's background could be checked. Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Justice said it misinterpreted the law and that Brady was not obligated to state that the gun was for her son as long as he was legally qualified to own a firearm.

    In addition, a spokesman for Brady said, "Sarah Brady told the gun store that the gun was for her son and filled out the forms that they asked her to fill out."

    The News regrets the error."

    So, since 2002, the correction to the error in reporting has been out there and you guys are still making false and stupid claims. Once you figure out that you are being lied to, you may decide that reasonable gun laws won't take away your second amendment freedoms.

    And to Mark- please read my post and the other comments before repeating the same stupid errors. You guys really need to do a better job of fact checking before sending me comments.