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.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

We can actually do something about gun violence

The American public often feels helpless in the face of all of the daily carnage from gun violence. Shootings make the news. Photos and articles stay up for a few days and then we move on to the next one. That is because we can always move on to the next one. There is always a next one. In other countries, when a mass shooting occurs, citizens and lawmakers get upset about the tragedy and don't wait for the next one to happen. Not in America. The corporate gun lobby fights any common sense effort to stop the next one. And so they continue. Here is a new Public Service Announcement that highlights why we need to do something about our public health and safety epidemic:

Too many shootings.

More and more people are speaking out about the issue of gun violence and how we can work to reduce and prevent it. The corporate gun lobby does not have a free pass any more. Their tactics are under more of a microscope than ever before. And what people are discovering is concerning, to say the least. This article, written by Kirk Douglas, star of movies, gets right to the point:
I cannot understand the people who are against some form of gun control. They should be the first to welcome a message on making it more difficult to get a gun. Many of them seem to propose more guns being available to everybody. Why? Are they interested in making more money for the gun manufacturers? Are they politicians who just want to oppose the president in anything he endorses? It's incomprehensible to me.
I am 96-years-old. I have many grandchildren. I would hate to leave them a world where guns are easily accessible. Children don't vote, adults do. It's time to do something to make our children safer. America's cowboy days are over.
I would suggest that the cowboys have been replaced by the insurrectionists. From this article by Robert Parry:
Tea Partiers and their Libertarian allies fancy themselves the true protectors of the Constitution, but they consistently demonstrate profound ignorance of what the Framers were doing and why. It’s as if they are all summa cum laude graduates of Glenn Beck’s unaccredited online university.
Their sloppy history might not be a matter of particular concern if the consequences weren’t so severe, such as how it has frustrated common-sense gun control by promoting a false interpretation of the Second Amendment – that the Framers wrote it because they wanted individual Americans to be heavily armed so they could kill representatives of the U.S. government.
A common view on the Right – and among a few on the Left – is that the Framers, having emerged from a war against the British Crown, wanted to arm the American people so they could battle the “tyranny” of their own Republic. This wacky interpretation has fed an insurrectionist mood in some circles, where these modern extremists assert that the elected government of the United States must be resisted through violence and that no limits on gun ownership can be tolerated, that citizens must be armed to a level comparable to the government’s police and military.
It doesn’t seem to matter that George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and other key Framers considered the creation of a Republic led by elected leaders to be the best protection against “tyranny” – and that the Constitution’s intricate system of checks and balances would further shield the country from the possibility of tyrannical leadership.
To the Framers, American liberty was not dependent on having a discontented minority of citizens shooting the representatives of a majority of the people, which has become today’s twisted view of the American Right. Liberty was dependent on the rule of law and the wisdom of the electorate, though the Framers’ idea of liberty was selective, excluding African-American slaves, Native Americans, women and other groups.
These Framers and the first Congresses enacted laws for arming white military-aged men in “well-regulated” militias not so they could fight the government but so they could defend the young nation’s security, including putting down armed insurrections. Yet, whenever anyone tries to explain this obvious history, there comes a flood of e-mails and comments citing some inflammatory remarks by Thomas Jefferson or some other cherry-picked quotes. (...) The reason for the right to “bear arms” was to have citizens who could fill the ranks of “a well-regulated Militia” for the purpose of maintaining “the security” of the states and country. Indeed, the key words for understanding the Framers’ intent are “militia” and “security.” This was never intended as a “libertarian” right to wield whatever weapon someone might wish to own for the purpose of insurrection. Instead, it was meant to support “a well-regulated Militia” responsible for ensuring the “security of a free State.”

Yet, the words of the preamble routinely disappear whenever Tea Partiers or Libertarians spout off about the Second Amendment. For instance, when Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz lectured Sen. Dianne Feinstein about the Second Amendment, he distorted the 26-word amendment by cutting off the first 12 words, all the better to confuse the true-believers in the Right’s faux history of the United States. The Texas Republican apparently couldn’t bring himself to say the words, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State …”
Mr. Leshner emphasized that the panel was not recommending that federal authorities create a registry. Common databases that combine different sources of information and are publicly accessible could have people’s identities stripped out, he said, much as databases of genetic information do. Such data would also help in evaluations of interventions to reduce gun violence.
“We need a science base so we are not wasting money on things that don’t work,” he said. (...) However, within today’s era of Tea Party madness, the narrow Supreme Court ruling has taken on a much-broader life of its own. It has encouraged new insurrectionist fantasies among some extremists to the detriment of the lives of thousands of Americans whose lives, whose liberties and whose pursuits of happiness have been cut horribly short by gun violence, including those 20 first-graders in Newtown, Connecticut.
We are better than this. This is not the America we should want or the America we need in order to make our communities safer. We need to work harder at preventing tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook elementary school. Common sense tells us that it doesn't have to be this way. After 12/14, everything changed. One important change is the executive order issued by President Obama that will allow government agencies to do research on the gun violence. The squelching of true information on the causes and effects of gun violence has led to misinformation or lack of much needed information. Having the research and the facts may just change the landscape. As with other national public health and safety problems, when the public and lawmakers have access to facts it's easier to make policy changes. So when we finally realized that second hand smoke caused health problems for Americans, the laws changed. When we finally got it through our heads that drinking while driving was a serious problem, causing deaths and injuries, the laws changed. When we finally realized that seat belts can save lives, laws changed. The same should be true with gun violence. There are now a set of recommendations for proceeding with the necessary research:
“Policies are made on the basis of facts and values, and we are the facts people,” said Mr. Leshner, who is the chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “We are trying to provide a tool for the country to address this very difficult issue more productively than it has been able to do in the past.”
Among the panel’s recommendations was a call for better data on guns. For example, there is no national count of how many guns there are in the country. And while federal law enforcement authorities, like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, gather data on specific guns, they track only those used in crimes, and often the details are not accessible to researchers. One database, the National Violent Death Reporting System, which compiles information on deaths from police departments and medical examiners’ offices, covers only about a third of the states.
“Basic information about gun possession, distribution, ownership, acquisition and storage is lacking,” the experts concluded. They added that “without good data, it is virtually impossible to answer fundamental questions” about gun violence or to evaluate programs intended to reduce that violence.
Public health researchers, who have long complained that a lack of solid information hobbles their work, applauded the request. But it may prove contentious. Many gun advocates have opposed additional reporting requirements, warning that more detailed information begins to look a lot like a national gun registry, which they have vigorously opposed and which federal law explicitly bans.
A spokesman for the National Rifle Association said that the organization’s researchers were reviewing the report, which was more than 90 pages long. He did not immediately have a comment. 
Enough said.

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