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, June 17, 2013

Fathers, guns and gun violence control

I just spent Fathers Day at the Minnesota Twins baseball game with friends. There were 3 very good fathers in our group, including my own husband. They are kind and gentle guys and love to have a good time. Only my husband owns a gun. He has been a hunter though doesn't do it much any more. These guys don't care a whit for guns for self defense or guns to fight against their government. They happen to represent the majority of Americans, many of them fathers, who are in favor of common sense concerning gun laws and gun ownership. And they also fit into the current state of gun ownership in America where only about 1/3 of homes have guns in them. In several recent polls, it was found that the majority of gun owners are men. Here is one of them. Here is another one. Presumably, some of them are fathers as well. We have seen the photos of the children and we have seen videos and articles with comments from the parents of the 20 Sandy Hook children. Those fathers did not get cards or gifts from the children they lost on 12/14. With every special occasion like Father's Day, birthdays and holidays, the pain of losing a child surfaces again.

Of course, there are fathers who are no longer with us because they, themselves, were shot. An Arizona father did something pretty stupid and dangerous. He left his young child in a room where a loaded gun was sitting out:
A 4-year-old boy who was visiting Prescott Valley with his dad grabbed a loaded handgun from a television stand, asked what it was and pulled the trigger, killing the man in what police say was a tragic accident.
Justin Stanfield Thomas, 34, had traveled from Phoenix to a friend’s home on Friday to pick up some of his things from a duplex where he lived until earlier this year, police said. The boy quickly found a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun, showed it to his dad and fired it, authorities said.
“Daddy got blood on him,” the boy later told investigators.
Police Sgt. Brandon Bonney said Monday that it didn’t appear that the tenant — James Williams, 26 — knew Thomas and his son would be visiting or had enough time to secure the weapon before they arrived. No children lived in the house.
The dead man was a Green Beret having served our country in the military. Guns are dangerous. Sure, the man who owned the gun didn't expect his visitors. But why do people have guns out and loaded in their homes? Way too often, those guns are used accidentally to shoot a perfectly innocent person. This tragic story is just one of many incidents similar to this one reported in the news. At the blog sites of Kid Shootings and Ohh Shoot, there are many more to be reported. Just check out the Weekend Gun Report from Joe Nocera of the New York Times for the latest devastating American week-end. By my count there were 29 shooting incidents on Fathers Day alone, some of them leaving people dead, some just injured, some multiple deaths in one shooting, some fathers, some mothers, some children. Fathers are dying. Children are dying. Fathers Day was not celebrated as a happy day by far too many.

With rights come responsibilities. And speaking of fathers and responsibilities, what would our Founding Fathers have thought of all of these shootings? Could they have possibly imagined that the Second Amendment could be used in a way that would make people less safe and less likely to have "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? Shootings, either accidental or purposeful,  affect way too many families and devastate communities all over America. There is a ripple affect to this public health and safety epidemic. That is why we need more common sense when it comes to who owns guns, where they can be carried and where and how they are stored. Their is a sector of America that idolizes guns and does not want any restrictions on guns or their owners. They are a minority but their voices are loud and obnoxious and they feed at the trough of fear and paranoia, often fueled by the corporate gun lobby. Until the law abiding and careful gun owners and lawmakers who don't agree with this view of the country stand up to this group, the country can't move forward with any kind of common sense. Let's hope that these folks are not passing their extreme views along to their children. From the article:
Reason does not however dictate that we continue to indulge the paranoid rantings and delusional fantasies of militant fanatics whose grasp of reality is so thin that they make comparisons between Barack Obama and tyrants like Adolf Hitler, with no sense of irony and no acknowledgement of hyperbole. In these twisted fantasies, any attempt to curtail any type of weaponry or to require any type of background check is tantamount to tyranny. No government agency is intent on disarming the American citizenry simply by advocating a few sensible pieces of legislation designed to curb gun violence. The idea that the US federal government is determined to disarm and enslave us, has no credible evidence on its side. The fact that gun-toting ideologues can not distinguish between a text like "Mein Kampf" and a text like "The Audacity of Hope", is but one of the flaws of the insurrrectionist line of thinking. Passing an energy tax, raising corporate income taxes or enacting an expansion of government assistance for health care does not constitute tyranny. Setting a limit on magazine sizes no more leads down the slippery slope to gun confiscation than setting a speed limit leads to automobile confiscation.
The notion that citizens need to have military style weaponry to fight their government implies that the government is intent on waging war on the citizenry, a notion that is on the surface absurd. Yes, our government does sometimes violate the civil liberties of some of the nation's citizens and we as a nation must collectively be vigilant in fighting government excesses. However, the paranoid fantasy that we need to resist our government by force or that the idea that any one citizen has the right or the ability to wage war on the government and win is simply lunacy.
President Obama has not committed his Munich Beer Hall Putsch nor instigated his version of Krystallnacht, and any suggestion that this nation's government is on a march to disarm the population and enslave us in concentration camps because we do not have enough AR-15s at our disposal is not a serious argument and it does not belong in a reasonable debate among women and men deciding the future of our nation. The fact that a powerful gun lobby's board of directors and their allies in Congress embrace such nonsensical paranoia is not sufficient reason to treat their arguments as if they hold intellectual merit, no matter how often they are repeated on the cable news networks.
If the men and women in the NRA leadership and their Congressional supporters want to fantasize about waging guerrilla warfare against the federal government they have the freedom to do that and nobody has yet taken the guns away from Wayne LaPierre, Ted Nugent or Don Young despite their incendiary rhetoric. However, when they throw their tantrums and launch rhetorical firebombs at the government, we do not have to accept their claims of patriotism and let them wrap those arguments in the American flag. In a functioning democracy, armed insurrection is not a form of patriotism it is treason and the NRA leadership is flirting with treason when they embrace paranoid insurrectionist fantasies and abandon all reason in the process. It is time we call it what it is and stop treating such arguments as intellectually valid or morally defensible.
Indeed. It's time for the reasonable gun owners to divorce themselves from the corporate gun lobby's dangerous and paranoid rhetoric. In my local newspaper today, an NRA member and regular writer for the Duluth News Tribune, Joseph Leguiri, did stand up to the corporate NRA and accused them of hypocrisy. Here are some of his comments:
What I don’t understand about the NRA is how it can be so careful in constructing concealed-carry classes so everyone who completes it is safe, sane, well-trained, and realizes the obligation to the public when concealing and carrying a pistol and then can do a 180-degree turn and advocate for the manufacture, distribution and use of assault weapons and weapons with high-capacity magazines.
The NRA’s seemingly deep concern for the safety of people on one hand and then its disregard for people’s safety on the other hand appear to me to be hypocrisy of the worst sort.
I would rather see the NRA use common sense and its energy and money to advocate for a law that would require anybody who wants to own a gun to go through a gun-training class similar to the one my wife and I completed when we wanted to conceal and carry.
A comprehensive gun-training law would not take away any individual’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms. But it would give someone in civilized society a chance to evaluate the sanity and the skills of potential gun owners. If it were determined an individual was not rational, that individual should not have a gun. That person could be put on a “No Gun” list.
If the individual does the irrational thing and gets a gun anyway, he should be identified by any means possible and detained. We have to remember that his constitutional right to keep and bear arms ends the moment he decides to obtain a gun for the purpose of stopping other people from exercising their “declared” right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Legueri has some good ideas here. Of course, everyone who owns a gun should be trained to use the gun. In many states, there is no requirement to have training before carrying a loaded gun around in public. And of course, the NRA's corporate lobby shouldn't be advocating for the manufacture and distribution of assault rifles while still trying to claim the high moral ground of training gun owners to be safe with their guns. But advocate they do. Big money is involved. The writer failed to come right out and mention that important detail. He also failed to mention that passing a universal background check law would also make sure that people, trained or not, who shouldn't have guns, won't get them anyway. I hope others will join the chorus of fathers, gun owners, and anyone else who finds fault with the gun lobby's "logic" and speak out. Their voices are important to the debate. Lives depend on their making some noise.

Just listen to the halting and emotional words of Gilles Rousseau, whose daughter was one of the teachers shot at the Sandy Hook school on 12/14. He misses her terribly on this Father's Day, 6 months after the shooting.


Shortly after publishing this post, I ran across an article proving the point that all gun sales should have background checks and all people who buy or somehow get a gun should have training:
20-year-old Joe Colter, of Glendale, Arizona, was with some friends playing video games. Colter started joking with one of his friends about having a gun. According to reports, he reached into his back pocket and took out a 9mm handgun. Keeping the gun hidden behind his back he racked the slide to eject the chambered round. But he neglected to remove the magazine and didn't realize that he had also chambered a second round. 
Colter pointed the gun in the direction of his friend and pulled the trigger expecting to hear a "click." Instead, the gun went off and he shot his friend in the chest. 
The man was taken to the hospital where he later died.
Colter told police he had purchased the gun three months earlier for protection. He bought the gun through a private sale via an Internet website. Because it was a private sale, with no background check, Colter did not have be 21. If he had gone to a licensed firearm dealer he would not have been able to buy the handgun.
Colter told police he wasn't really familiar with the gun. He didn't receive an owner's manual, had received no training and had only fired the handgun once before, at a range. 
Colter and other witnesses at the scene said the two men were good friends and that the shooting was unintentional. Colter is being charged with reckless manslaughter. 
This bears repeating- " He bought the gun through a private sale via an Internet website. Because it was a private sale, with no background check, Colter did not have be 21. If he had gone to a licensed firearm dealer he would not have been able to buy the handgun.
Colter told police he wasn't really familiar with the gun. He didn't receive an owner's manual, had received no training and had only fired the handgun once before, at a range. "

I rest my case.


Here is a very sad story involving fathers and shootings on Father's Day in Utah:
It was a quiet part of the Father's Day Mass as about 300 people stood up in preparation for communion. A parishioner, known by many at the church as Ricky Jennings, entered through the glass doors in back, holding his wife Cheryl's hand.
Seconds later, police say Jennings fired a single shot at the back of Cheryl's father's head, nearly killing him. The loud bang pierced the silence, sending people diving for cover beneath pews and the priest behind the altar.
"It was echoing in my head so loud," said Rebecca Ory Hernandez, who was only a few feet away from the Evans with her 5-year-old son. She grabbed her son, threw him under the pew and got on top of him. She heard the pastor blurt out an expletive into his microphone. "I was waiting for another gunman," she said.
The shooter ran from the church, the pastor and a half dozen other men close on his heels. Ory Hernandez and other parishioners went to James Evans. They used scarves and a shirt to help soak up the blood, and she cradled his head. His wife, Tara, who had been standing next to him, and others prayed. (...) 
Evans, who turns 66 on Tuesday, was struck at the side of his head, the bullet going through near his ear and out his cheek and missing his brain, said Dr. Barbara Kerwin, the director of the intensive care unit at McDay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.
"He turned his head just at the right time," his wife said Monday, crying at a hospital news conference. "If didn't turn his head, he would have been hit in the back of the head and he would have been dead."
He was in critical condition Monday but doctors say he's expected to live, although he'll need reconstructive surgery and rehab to learn to swallow and speak again, Kerwin said. He was awake on Monday, nodding yes and no, writing and using hand signals to communicate.
Jennings was booked on suspicion of attempted aggravated criminal homicide, aggravated robbery and possession of a firearm by a restricted user. Charges are expected to be filed Tuesday, and Jennings will appear by video for arraignment in Ogden, said Weber County deputy county attorney Dean Saunders.
Court records show Jennings has a criminal record going back to 1996, when he pleaded no contest to several traffic-related misdemeanors. Over the years, he's pleaded no contest to felony charges of failing to yield to police and attempting to receive a stolen vehicle, and misdemeanor charges for traffic violations, criminal trespassing and theft. He's also pleaded guilty to theft charges and a felony charge of attempting to tamper with a witness or juror.
Why did this man have a gun? How did he get a gun? He should have been a prohibited purchaser who couldn't pass a background check, right? This is why we need to make sure that every gun sale requires a background check.


  1. japete writes:
    "What I don’t understand about the NRA is how it can be so careful in constructing concealed-carry classes so everyone who completes it is safe, sane, well-trained, and realizes the obligation to the public when concealing and carrying a pistol and then can do a 180-degree turn and advocate for the manufacture, distribution and use of assault weapons and weapons with high-capacity magazines."

    Except the NRA doesn't offer any sort of concealed-carry course - and NRA courses are not accepted under MN State Law for a Permit to Carry application.

    NRA courses are listed here: http://www.nrainstructors.org/CourseCatalog.aspx

    Minnesota requires a state-specific curriculum that is in compliance with state law - from instructors that are certified by an organization that has been approved by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to offer such instructor certification.

    Simply being a NRA instructor does not allow you to teach a MN Permit to Carry Course - and the NRA does not offer such a course.

    I'm not sure where the columnist is getting his information.

    1. Yes, Bryan. Apparently this man does not know Minnesota law as well as he should. He does, however, make some points about everyone having to have training before shooting or owning a gun. Don't you think that's a good idea?

    2. Two specific questions for you in response to your question:

      1) What data do you have showing that training leads to a reduction in crime or accidents with firearms?
      2) Can you show me another specific enumerated constitutional right in which training is required before one is allowed to exercise that right?

    3. You didn't answer my question.

    4. I think the verdict is out on whether or not mandatory training has *any* impact.

      Besides, ownership of a firearm is a specific enumerated right in our bill of rights. Prior restraint on the exercise of that right by a law abiding citizen is likely unconstitutional - in the same manner that prior restraint on the exercise of the 1st amendment right to freedom of speech is unconstitutional.

    5. Justice Scalia does not agree with you in the Heller decision. Given your interpretation, people should be allowed to shoot others with no restraint on whether they should have a gun in the first place or whether it was justified and then be punished after the shooting. Great idea.

    6. I'm not sure at all how you just the conclusion that "Given your interpretation, people should be allowed to shoot others with no restraint on whether they should have a gun in the first place or whether it was justified and then be punished after the shooting. "

      We're talking about ownership of a firearm, not use of deadly force laws.

      The court held in Heller (and Macdonald) that the right to own firearms for self-defense was a specific enumerated right in the Bill of Rights - and that government could not simply ban possession, or overly burden that right. We've seen tens of cases since then based on these decisions at the district and appellate level to better define the level of scrutiny that would be applied to that right when interpreting the constitutionality of various regulations.

      What you're proposing is mandatory training before one is allowed to exercise that right - with no data to back up a claim that this would make people safer - and without any example of another enumerated right under the constitution where training is required before the exercise of that right.

      While I believe Heller leaves open the door for some regulation in Scalia's writing - putting a requirement out there that would prohibit someone from exercising the right short of taking some sort of training isn't one that I see the court supporting.

      Besides, again, I ask - on what data are you basing this conclusion?

    7. I am suggesting Bryan. The NRA has, of course, made it impossible for research to happen around the issue of gun violence. This is one area worthy of more research and discussion. Unfortunately, we do know that many "trained" gun owners shoot people every day. They even shoot people accidentally at the gun ranges where, presumably, they are going to be trained to be better and more accurate shooters. Since guns are the only consumer product sold in our market place designed to kill and injure people, training makes good sense, don't you think? I find it interesting that you would object to that given that gun rights advocates tell me that those accidental discharges are usually due to the fault of the gun owner who doesn't know enough about guns or is not adequately trained. I hope that you, yourself, keep your skills up to date since you carry a gun with you everywhere you go. And if you are wise, you would hope that all of those other folks carrying are very well trained as well. You never know when an idiot who doesn't know anything about guns and has never been trained is going to point a gun at you in jest and pull the trigger like the incident I documented on this post. Guns are dangerous.

  2. This comment is from a friend of mine who is a gun owner, and knows Minnesota gun law well:

    " 1) I would be very surprised if an NRA (or any) certified permit-to-carry instructor is qualified, or required, to determine whether a trainee is "rational", or "sane", as the writer states is part of the instructor's evaluation.

    2) The phrase "conceal and carry" is too often used erroneously, and this writer just loves to use it. Since he is being so critical of the NRA's ways, I would expect him to demonstrate that he understands the law (in MN) and use the correct terminology. There is no requirement in the MN permit-to-carry law to "conceal" the carried pistol.

    3) The writer also indicates that after the Sheriff's background check is passed, an "application for the right to purchase a firearm must be completed". Not so. A permit-to-carry is sufficent to purchase a pistol in MN. (Or, did he mean the also required federal NICS check - neither of which is necessary in a private sale.)"