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 6, 2013

The NRA on graphic display

I have been away from my blog for a few days to do some child care with grandchildren. While I was away, the NRA held it's annual convention. There is a lot to write about. But first, on Saturday, we took our grandchildren to a Bloomington nature reserve for the Raptor release. Though it was very cold and we didn't stay long enough for the release, we saw some magnificent raptors and other birds close up. The kids loved seeing these birds and hearing the volunteers explain their habits, their ability to fly at over 200 miles per hour ( Peregrine Falcon) and their amazing wing span. They particularly liked the Great Horned Owl. So it got me thinking about a plaque that I got from someone years ago that reads like this: "Don't let the turkeys get you down. Soar with the Eagles."

The turkeys are the jerks who try to take you down and make your life miserable. There are plenty of those soaring these days. Take the NRA annual convention just held in Houston, for example. There were the usual displays of weapons and interesting paraphernalia and other items of interest. And there were the people who believe in the NRA messaging. This video from the Guardian brings out the usual specious claims that guns are inanimate objects, or that the second amendment means everyone should be able to have any gun anywhere they want with no restrictions, and more. Check it out.

A 15 year old said that his favorite gun is an AK 47? Where did he learn that? Do I have to remind my readers that this is a knock-off of a gun used for war purposes? Note the woman who thinks that guns make people safer which is not true. It's a fact that America has more guns than almost any other country in the world owned by citizens and also has the highest gun death rate of any other civilized country not at war. Also note the man who claims that an AR-15 is a "modern sporting rifle". If people want to target shoot with this type of gun for the fun of it, that's one thing. But it is not necessary to be used for most sporting purposes, like hunting or self defense. The fact that the NRA lobbyists and leaders have gotten away with these false talking points is reprehensible and stupid. Also listen as the man who owns 30-40 guns thinks he can sell his car to whomever he wants to just like he should be able to sell a gun to whomever he wants in a private sale without a background check. Apparently he conveniently forgot that you have to fill out paper work to transfer a car to another person. It's called a title and registration of the vehicle. It's the law. I guess he doesn't object to that one. And worse, the fact that some of our elected leaders listen to these lies has made our streets more dangerous.

The NRA also trotted out their new President, James Porter. We need to talk about him. If anyone thinks the NRA is going to compromise on any gun safety bill whatsoever, think again. With Porter at the helm, things are going to get worse than ever. Here is a little bit more about him from an article:
The election of James Porter — ensured after the endorsement of outgoing President David Keene last week — is one of many defiant signals to come out of the NRA's annual meeting in Houston over the weekend. The organization vowed to continue to fight any compromise on gun-control legislation in Congress.
"Revenge is what's motivating the president's unrelenting attacks on gun owners today," Porter told the group's meeting Saturday amid news that the NRA's membership had grown to a record 5 million.
"Millions of Americans are becoming first-time gun owners," Porter said. "The media calls it fear. That's not it. It's a sense of natural outrage that's been building for quite some time."
Porter, 64, a lawyer from Birmingham, Ala., who defends gun manufacturers, has been building that outrage his whole life. His father, Irvine C. Porter, was president of the NRA in 1959 — when the son says the NRA was "a glorified shooting society." At a breakfast Friday, Porter told grass-roots organizers that they are on the front line of a "culture war."
"He seems to come out of a mold that's much closer to the base than David Keene," said Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Whereas Keene was a "steady hand" for the NRA amid controversy, Porter is "a complete wild card," Horwitz said. "The world's changing around them, and they're hunkering down."
Really? Revenge? Nonsense. 20 small children were massacred on 12/14. That's why it's important for our country to deal with our weak gun laws. Further, it's no coincidence that Porter is a lawyer who represents gun manufacturers. That is what this fight is all about in the end. Follow the money to the relationship between the NRA and the gun makers and you will see why there is so much fierce resistance to change.

Common sense is certainly not anywhere near the convention. One of the break out sessions was presented by a gun dealer who thinks it's perfectly O.K. for people to store their guns in their children's rooms because you just know that the next time someone breaks into your house, you are going to run to your child's bedroom to protect him/her and then you can get out your gun that has been stored in a gun safe in their room. Yes, really. That's what he said. Let's take a look at it here:
The question of child access to guns made national headlines this week after a five-year-old boy shot and killed his two-year-old sister in Kentucky. Just days later, a home defense seminar at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) Annual Meeting is raising eyebrows because of its suggestion that guns be stored in kids' bedrooms.
Home defense was a focus of this year's NRA members meeting, according to the Houston Chronicle. One of the offerings was a well-attended seminar on "Home Defense Concepts" taught by gun safety advocate and firearms instructor Rob Pincus.
In a video clip of the seminar obtained by ThinkProgress, Pincus asks the members assembled where they thought gun safes should be located, in the interest of home defense.
"How about putting a quick-access safe in your kids’ room?" Pincus asks. "We have an emotional push back to that. Here’s my position on this. If you’re worried that your kid is going to try to break into the safe that is in their bedroom, with a gun in it, you have bigger problems than home defense."
As the group laughs, Pincus explains that in a home invasion situation, it makes sense to have a gun stored in a bedroom you're instinctively moving to defend.
"If that alarm goes off and the glass breaks and the dog starts barking, what’s the instinct that most people are going to have, in regards to, 'Am I going to run across the house to get the gun, or am I going to run over here to help the screaming kid?'" Pincus said. "And if I’m going to go to the kid anyway, and I have an extra gun and an extra safe, why not put it in their closet?"
In the past, Pincus has mixed gun safety training with the attitude that when provoked, gun owners must be prepared to use lethal force. Speaking with NPR's "Talk of the Nation" program in February, Pincus told the hosts that his classes focus on scenarios when the homeowner is surprised and required to make split-second decisions.
It's a fact that armed home invasions are rare. Most home break-ins take place when no one is at home:
Nine out of 10 criminals convicted of home invasion say that they would avoid homes with a security system like an adt alarm. The typical perpetrator is not looking for a challenge, and will bypass a secure home for a less secure one up the street. You want to have the secure home that doesn't end up as just another.
But never mind facts. These folks are evidently quaking in their boots most of the time just waiting for an invasion. They are also being persuaded to buy guns for that very rare home invasion. Never mind that a gun in the home is much more likely to injure or kill someone in the home than to be used in self defense. Just check out the Ohh Shoot blog and the Kid Shootings blog for evidence of that inconvenient fact. Guns are dangerous and designed to kill people.

What else was at the convention of interest? Well, there's this Zombie that looks an awful lot like President Obama:
Selling targets intended to look like the president, presumably because he dares to take an ideological stance that 90% of the country agrees with, at a convention of self-proclaimed reasonable, rational, and utterly peaceful folks. The irony is rich.
Even the NRA thought this was too much and asked the company that makes Zombies to remove it from the display. I wonder what would have happened if anyone had shown up anywhere with a bloody Zombie resembling say, George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan? You know the answer to that one. It's all about hyped up fear and hatred of President Obama.

The speakers were the same old, same old. Except for Senator Cruz who already has a reputation for being less than subtle at Senate hearings. He got everyone hyped up about the Constitution and how every word matters. He made one mistake though. The NRA apologists always forget about the first phrase in the second amendment. You know, the one about the well regulated part. " A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." That must be inconvenient for the messaging.

There were others at the convention as well. Victims and groups representing victims and gun violence prevention- reading names of people who have been shot. The NRA doesn't care about victims. From the article:
Neil Heslin’s first-grade son, Jesse, was shot to death at Sandy Hook. The 51-year-old construction worker broke down when he testified in February at a Senate military-style weapons ban hearing in Washington.
Yesterday, his eyes were sad and his voice steady and quiet as he talked about why he came to the NRA convention.
“I’m not looking to see anyone lose their rights, but my 6-year-old boy lost his right to live,” he said in an interview.
Patricia Maisch, 64, has been to three NRA conventions now, and she made headlines when she shouted, “Shame on you,” from the Senate galley after the lawmakers rejected the proposal to expand background checks.
She was at Representative Giffords’ public appearance in January 2011 in Tucson when a gunman opened fire, killing six and injuring the congresswoman. She grabbed a clip of ammunition from the shooter.
A few months later, she was in Pittsburgh, extending her hand to the NRA to create an unlikely partnership.
“My motto that year was, ‘We don’t want your guns, we want your help,’” she said in an interview. “Same with the next year in St. Louis.” She said both times she tried to meet with NRA officials, and no one responded.
The NRA does not want to speak to real victims. They have somehow managed to make themselves the victims in this discussion about reasonable gun laws. They conveniently ignore the real victims such as Representative Gabby Giffords who received the JFK Profile in Courage Award from Caroline Kennedy, for her efforts at getting reasonable gun laws passed after she, herself, has suffered from the long term effects of her shooting two years ago:
Kennedy cited Giffords' strength to carry on a difficult fight.
"Our family is still suffering from the heartbreak caused by gun violence," Kennedy said, referring to the assassinations of her father, President John Kennedy, and uncle, Senator and former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy. "No one should have to lose a husband, a wife, a father, a child, to senseless murder.
"But as our nominee has shown, out of that pain and tragedy, we must find the strength to carry on, to give meaning to our lives, and to build a more just and peaceful world."
Families and communities suffer the effects from shootings forever. It never goes away. Gabby Giffords' life has been forever altered by the fateful shooting at a Tucson shopping mall. She is not going away and more than deserves the award she received. There is no deception with this award.

A certain number of people do believe the NRA lies and deception. More's the pity. Not all are fooled, however. This NRA member has seen through the deception and has called out Wayne LaPierre for his false rhetoric at the NRA convention. From the article:
It's easy to cloak yourself in a holier-than-thou mantle of God-given rights to avoid looking at the facts. And the facts are that private-citizen vigilantism doesn't protect anyone from gun violence; it actually results in more violence and deaths. It's easy to disparage the 90 percent of Americans who are in favor of expanding background checks by telling your audience that some unnamed Congressman from some unnamed state hasn't gotten any calls. But maybe the time has finally come when most Americans are more worried about ending the 100,000+ firearm deaths and injuries than whether you and your NRA cult of followers can Stand and Fight.
For all your talk about defending liberty Wayne, I'll give you something more important to defend: the young children whose lives always seem to take a back seat to how many guns you can get Americans to buy. I'm talking about children at Sandy Hook, a 4-year-old in New York, a 2-year-old in Kentucky. There's something immoral about denying any connection between the deaths of children and the explosion in gun sales that you claim show how much we love our freedom. I'd rather have those kids alive, even if it costs me more than a few bucks in gun sales. I joined Evolve so I could be part of an organization that wants gun owners and non-gun owners to lead with solutions that can talk about saving human lives and preserving our Second Amendment rights. That's patriotic and that is a future worth fighting for.
Closer to home the gun rights extremists were all bothered by a press conference held by the Minnesota Gun Violence Prevention Coalition. The purpose of the press conference was to call out the legislative leaders for their failure to bring the simple, and weakened background check bill to the House floor. One of gun rights folks even went so far as to start his own Facebook page with the coalition name just to mock our efforts and cause trouble. What is the purpose of such immature and provocative actions? In addition, some of the "gun guys" have signed up to come to events sponsored by Protect Minnesota and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, even asking if openly carrying their guns is O.K. NO. It is not O.K. We don't want you around with your guns. What is this all about? They revel in being jerks and bullies. Bullies are actually pretty insecure people. And we know that these folks are insecure enough that they have to carry their loaded guns everywhere they go and then openly carry them just to be provocative. I sat next to someone with his openly carried gun in a holster at a local restaurant with my grandchildren the other night. It was disgusting and totally unnecessary. People were making sideways glances and trying not to stare too openly. Why did this man need to carry his gun while eating at a family restaurant where lots of kids were there to enjoy a fun night out with their families? I guess he needs some attention and wants everyone to know that he is a macho man. He was with a young child himself. What an example to set for children.

Also in Minnesota, a young man under suspicion of the disappearance of an Eden Prairie woman who happened to have attended college at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, shot himself in the parking lot of the police station where he was waiting to be questioned by police. This is tragic on so many levels. A young woman is missing and we can likely believe she is not coming back. This young man may or may not have had anything to do with this crime. But because he had a gun and is now dead, it will be much more difficult for police to solve this crime. Presumably he was not already a criminal but we will learn more as the case proceeds.

But back to the lies and deception, why do the gun rights extremists continue to lie about the idea that requiring background checks on private sales would affect them personally? If they are law abiding as they claim, requiring private sale background checks will serve to stop people from getting guns at the point of sale who shouldn't be able to buy them. This case, for instance, is an example of how requiring universal background checks could stop some gun sales from happening. Yes, felons, drug dealers and others may find another way to get guns but if one of the ways is too difficult, they will have to look harder. Crimes and gun deaths could be stopped. Why are the NRA lobbyists and leaders against this? Well, look how many guns would not have been sold in the case above:
According to documents filed in connection with the case, Dinkins purchased 31 firearms – all handguns – on three consecutive weekends from Nov. 17 through Dec. 1, 2012. She purchased these firearms at three separate gun shows in Chantilly, Richmond, and Hampton, Va. Dinkins, who was not a federally licensed dealer of firearms, purchased the handguns with the intention of selling them for profit.
Filings associated with the case state that the firearms bought and sold by Dinkins were eventually recovered from juveniles and felons who utilized the firearms during drug trafficking schemes. Specifically, on Nov. 30, 2012, local law enforcement in Prince George’s County, Md., recovered one of the firearms bought and sold by Dinkins from a 20 year old Maryland man during the course of a narcotics investigation. On Dec. 12, 2012, local law enforcement in Prince George’s County recovered a second firearm bought and sold by Dinkins from a 19 year old Maryland man, again during the course of a narcotics investigation. Both Maryland men have pleaded guilty to possession of firearms-related charges in Maryland state court.
We are better than this as a country. It's time for action and to demand that action from our lawmakers. Enough is enough. It should not be lost on my readers that the Eagle is part of the NRA logo. Their motto for the annual convention was "Stand and Fight". Don't be fooled. I believe in soaring with those who want to stand and fight for what's right- saving lives. Passing common sense gun laws should not be something to fight about and fight against. It should be something we do as a country to keep our communities safe from the gun violence that devastates too many families. Don't let the turkeys get you down.


I just ran into this incredible article about an Ohio insurrectionist and the materials contained in his car after police killed him when he fired off his AK-47 at them. These are the kind of people the NRA leaders are talking to when they hype paranoia and fear of the government. It can lead to some pretty bad outcomes. Let's hope it doesn't. From the article:
"The Cleveland Plain Dealer released photographs of the different books and pamphlets. And here’s where it gets even more interesting and, yes, more disturbing. TPM Reader JL notes that the 7th slide in the slideshow shows what appears to be a course manual for the Fighting Rifle course taught by a Tennessee outfit called Tactical Response. (...) Well, remember back not long after the Newtown massacre, a crazy gun guy down in Tennessee who was the CEO of a ‘tactical’ firearms training operation said he was “gonna start killing people” if President Obama issued an executive order on guns. Well, that was James Yeager, CEO of, yep, Tactical Response.  (...) A short time later, Yeager clarified that he wouldn’t murder anybody “unless it’s necessary.” But that apparently wasn’t enough for the State of Tennessee which suspended Yeager’s carry permit because his comments suggested a “material likelihood of risk of harm to the public,” which sounds like a reasonable enough position.
Not to worry though, Yeager got his permit back last month. (...) Needless to say, one can’t lay any direct responsibility on Tactical Response for what Gilkerson did. But when you make it a habit of giving urban combat training on automatic weapons to civilians in a climate of gonzo threats to start civil wars or start blowing away government officials, it’s hard to say something like this is entirely unexpected."
Just another day in America.


Buford “Bucky” Rogers, 24, of Montevideo, was arrested and charged Friday with being a felon in possession of a firearm after federal authorities found Molotov cocktails, suspected pipe bombs and guns during a search of his mobile home, according to a federal criminal complaint and affidavit.
“The FBI believes that a terror attack was disrupted by law enforcement personnel and that the lives of several local residents were potentially saved,” the agency said in a statement issued Monday.
The plot was discovered and subsequently thwarted through the “timely analysis of intelligence and through the cooperation and coordination” among several federal, state local agencies, the FBI statement continued.
J. Christopher Warrener, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Minneapolis, said the action prevented “a potential tragedy in Montevideo.”
FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said Monday that “there is not indication of any overseas involvement” with the alleged plot. Otherwise, Loven would not address the timing of any potential attack or what was at risk of being attacked. He also would not say whether authorities were looking at other suspects.
Where does this end? How did this felon get his guns? Why would we not pass stricter gun laws to stop potential terror attacks, shootings, etc.


Just to put a punctuation mark on the increasing lunacy and radicalism of the gun rights extremists, you should read about the new "target" being promoted by an NRA vendor for target shooting:
Just when you thought the NRA's annual convention in Houston this weekend couldn't draw any more negative attention, it goes out and casually promotes a company selling a product that can help you practice shooting your ex-girlfriend. You know, just in case you need that to defend yourself one day. We all know them ex-honeys be crazzzzy.
The target, which is delightfully called "the ex," is sold by a vendor who was present at the convention. The company goes by the name of Zombie Industries and market themselves as the maker of "life-sized tactical mannequin targets." It bleeds heavily when you shoot it and eventually looks like this.
This is followed by a photo of the "zombie" figure of a woman who is supposed to be the "ex". More from the article:
I'm not even sure how to begin unpacking this, so let me start with some stats. Men's violence against women is not a small pickle, it's a huge problem. Not just all over the world and in every society, but particularly here in the United States where "domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women — more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined." One third of female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner.
Gun violence is a gendered issue since it impacts women and men in very different ways. Because women are more vulnerable to violence within the home than men (and men are most often the perpetrators of violence against women), the presence of a gun makes females less safe, not more. How do we know? A woman's likelyhood of a violent death within the home actually increases by 270% when a gun is kept inside the house. Homicide figures don't lie. Having a gun within their possession didn't protect women from murder. In fact, it accurately predicted their higher likelyhood of death.
"Women who were murdered were more likely, not less likely, to have purchased a handgun in the three years prior to their deaths, again invalidating the idea that a handgun has a protective effect against homicide." 
Giving women guns will not solve domestic violence. Normalizing men's violence against women with an ex-girlfriend mannequin will not solve domestic violence. It can only make the problem worse. 
Every day, at least three women are killed by an intimate partner in the US alone.  Let's make sure those numbers go down, not up. Let's make sure companies like Zombies Industries know that we're not buying it.  
Let them know what you think on Twitter by pinging them at @ZombieInd and don't forget to use the hashtag #NotBuyingIt. Here's a sample tweet, but feel free to make up your own.
No further comment from me is necessary.

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