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.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

After the Fourth- What now?

What's next? What could possibly go wrong when idiotic people with guns roam around at public celebrations and actually shoot them off for fun? You may have remembered my post about July 4th celebratory gun fire and the threats by libertarian, insurrectionist gun extremists to carry guns at public Independence Day celebrations. Luckily the stupid and dangerous ideas promoted by Adam Kokesh fizzled out. It was a lot of blather, empty threats and braggadocio. But the celebratory gun fire? As predicted, there has been at least one gun injury due to an alleged celebratory gunfire. A 7 year old boy was shot in the head and killed as he was walking with his father to see the fireworks in Richmond, Virginia. From the article:
The seven-year-old boy shot in head by a stray bullet Thursday night has died, Chesterfield Police said.  Police said Brendon Mackey, 7, was walking with his father in the parking lot of the Boathouse Restaurant in Midlothian about 9 p.m. Thursday when he was shot. The father and son were there to watch some nearby fireworks.
“A large crowd had been gathering over by the reservoir to watch fireworks and a young boy, seven years old, was walking through the parking lot with his dad. He was a few step behind his dad and he [the boy] fell to the ground,” Chesterfield Police Capt. Brad Badgerow said. “Initially they thought he was just passed out. They saw some blood. They thought he may have hit his head.” (...) 
But when the child was taken to the hospital, doctors made a startling discovery.
“When medical personnel were treating him, they found what they believe to be a bullet wound in the top of his head,” Badgerow said.
Police said it is unlikely that the shot was intentionally fired at the boy, and that the bullet likely came from a gun fired off the premises.
“We don’t think this was an intentional shooting. We think that somebody in or around the Brandermill area was celebrating the Fourth of July. Unfortunately we think they were shooting a gun in a reckless manner and this young boy is a victim,” Badgerow said.
Children should be able to go to the fireworks with their families without being shot in the head by a stray bullet. This is really outrageous, tragic and totally senseless.

And ouch- this one must have really hurt and been very embarrassing to this lucky South Dakota man:
A man suffered minor injuries shortly after 2 a.m. Thursday when he fell asleep on his back porch with a loaded handgun and accidentally shot himself in the midsection, authorities say.
According to the Mitchell Police Division, the 34-year-old man was sitting alone in a lawn chair on the back porch of his residence, located in the 400 block of East Ninth Avenue, when a family member turned on the porch light and opened a nearby door. Startled by the light and noise, the man woke up and unintentionally pulled the handgun’s trigger and shot himself.
The man suffered minor flesh wounds as a result of the incident, but was still able to transport himself to Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, according to police.
Mitchell Police Investigator Joel Reinesch said the man was expected to be released from the hospital later Thursday.
“Quite frankly, he was very fortunate,” Reinesch said in an interview Friday.
The man told investigators he had just retrieved the handgun and several other items from his truck after a long day at work when he decided to sit down on his porch with a glass of water and a cigarette, and then dozed off, according to Reinesch.
The man’s name is not being released because no criminal charges have been filed as a result of the shooting, Reinesch said.
The Davison County State’s Attorney’s Office will determine whether to file charges in the case at a later date once all the investigative reports have been finished, Reinesch said.
No one else was hurt as a result of the shooting.
“He was lucky it wasn’t anything more serious,” Reinesch said.
The incident is at least the second accidental shooting in the area in less than two weeks.
Just one more from my neck of the woods to illustrate my point. What do you do when a neighbor is firing off fireworks at night? I know that we woke up to that sound during the night on the night of July 4th. I looked out the window, saw some flashes of fireworks across the street and then tried to go back to sleep. Was my first reaction to get out my gun? Of course not. Not this presumably "law abiding" gun owner:
A 61-year-old Britt man is in custody after allegedly pulling a gun and threatening to kill another man in a dispute over fireworks Thursday night.
The suspect was angry about the noise from the fireworks, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Mark Steel said.
The Sheriff’s Office reported that deputies were called to a fireworks complaint in the area of the 7000 block of Sherwood Anderson Road at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday. That’s in Great Scott Township, about 12 miles northeast of Chisholm.
While deputies were on their way to the area, the Sheriff’s Office reported, the suspect drove to the nearby property of a 43-year-old West St. Paul man in the 10000 block of Dark Lake Road, to confront him about fireworks.
The suspect allegedly pulled out a handgun, pointed it at the head of the property owner and, in front of other witnesses, threatened to kill him.
The 61-year-old man was arrested without incident, and authorities executed a search warrant at his residence. Officers seized several handguns that fit the description provided by the victim.
The suspect is being held on tentative charges of second-degree assault, terroristic threats and damage to property. The incident remains under investigation.
I would say there are more than a few lucky people left after this incident. What would the claim of the man with the gun have been if he had shot the July 4th reveler? Self defense? When a gun is handy, there's no telling how a simple dispute over noise can end up.

I need to remind my readers that these are just a few of the daily stupid and dangerous gun incidents occurring in America where we just celebrated our nation's birthday. These are the result of a gun culture gone wrong. When the corporate gun lobby promotes the carrying of guns everywhere and fear and paranoia these kinds of shootings are bound to happen. Guns are dangerous. Some gun owners are too cavalier and too careless with their guns. They must assume that nothing bad could ever happen to them when they are armed all the time. They surely assume that having a loaded gun around will make them somehow safer. But then they shoot off their guns in celebration selfishly and stupidly thinking that nothing happens to the bullet once it is shot into the air. What kind of training did they get when they bought their guns? Do they know anything about the dangers associated with having a gun at the ready at all times? Apparently not. Innocent people are shot by these stupid supposedly "law abiding" gun owners. And come on, if you cart your weapon from your truck to your house, how about storing it safely before you do anything else. I am not sure the man who fell asleep with his gun told the whole story. If he is like many fearful and paranoid gun owners, he may have thought that he needed his gun in his lap just in case of, well, just in case of......? I would say that the relative who turned on the porch light at 2:00 a.m. was just plain lucky the man didn't accidentally shoot him or her. Nothing much good happens at that hour of the night when a gun is involved.

So what to do about all of this? How about having a serious national discussion about the risks involved in owning guns? How about taking gun deaths and injuries seriously enough to pass some laws to make it harder for some people to own guns and to send a message that we love our country so much that we want to protect our communities from the daily devastation from shootings? That makes a lot of common sense. How about a campaign to not only encourage but insist that guns be safely stored, unloaded, in homes? All rights come with responsibilities. As a country we have a responsibility to deal with public health and safety issues that affect our citizens. Gun violence is one such issue that we have avoided because we ( some of us, that is) are afraid to challenge the corporate gun lobby and the American gun culture. This is not about hunting and guns for self defense in the home any more. This is much bigger than that and requires some big solutions. It also should not be about the mistaken and dangerous notion that guns are needed to fight against the duly elected government.

The longer we wait, the more people will die. It's time for action. This great column from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof expresses surprise that we have let shooting after shooting after shooting pass without action to prevent them. From his column:
On security issues, we Americans need a rebalancing. We appear willing to bear any burden, pay any price, to confound the kind of terrorists who shout “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) and plant bombs, while unwilling to take the slightest step to curb a different kind of terrorism — mundane gun violence in classrooms, cinemas and inner cities that claims 1,200 times as many American lives.
When I began my book leave, it seemed likely that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut would impel Congress to approve universal background checks for gun purchases. It looked as if we might follow Australia, which responded to a 1996 gun massacre by imposing restrictions that have resulted in not a single mass shooting there since.
Alas, I was na├»ve. Despite 91 percent support from voters polled in late March and early April, Congress rejected background checks. Political momentum to reduce gun killings has now faded — until the next such slaughter.
Meanwhile, our national leaders have been in a tizzy over Edward Snowden and his leaks about National Security Agency surveillance of — of, well, just about everything. The public reaction has been a shrug: Most people don’t like surveillance, but they seem willing to accept it and much more as the price of suppressing terrorism. (...) 
The imbalance in our priorities is particularly striking because since 2005, terrorism has taken an average of 23 American lives annually, mostly overseas — and the number has been falling.
More Americans die of falling televisions and other appliances than from terrorism. Twice as many Americans die of bee or wasp stings annually. And 15 times as many die by falling off ladders.
Most striking, more than 30,000 people die annually from firearms injuries, including suicides, murders and accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. American children are 13 times as likely to be killed by guns as in other industrialized countries.
Doesn’t it seem odd that we’re willing to spend trillions of dollars, and intercept metadata from just about every phone call in the country, to deal with a threat that, for now, kills but a few Americans annually — while we’re too paralyzed to introduce a rudimentary step like universal background checks to reduce gun violence that kills tens of thousands?
Wasn’t what happened at Sandy Hook a variant of terrorism? And isn’t what happens in troubled gang-plagued neighborhoods of Chicago just as traumatic for schoolchildren, leaving them suffering a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder?
I don’t see any glib solutions here, just a need for a careful balancing of risks and benefits. I’d say that in auto safety, we get it about right. We give most adults access to cars, but we regulate them with licenses, insurance requirements and mandatory seat belts. In the case of national security and terrorism, I wonder if we haven’t overdeployed resources.
In the case of guns, we don’t do enough. Baby steps, consistent with the Second Amendment, would include requiring universal background checks, boosting research to understand gun violence and investing in smarter guns. A debit card requires a code to work, a car requires a key — and a gun, nothing at all.
Exactly. What are we waiting for? Another mass shooting? More first graders shot up in their classrooms? More bullets falling from the sky? More shootings of Congress members in public gatherings? More work place shootings? More children shooting other children when they find a loaded gun sitting around? More vigilante shootings of teen-aged boys just walking in a neighborhood? More movie goers shot up by crazed young men who can order thousands of rounds of ammunition on the Internet? More domestic shootings when a husband or partner gets upset about a separation, or money, or how the woman makes her eggs?

If we can't get our priorities straight and put our heads together to solve this problem, who are we as a nation? Other countries look to us as an example. We have set a terrible example by ignoring the carnage due to bullets that other countries do not tolerate. We can do better than this. Let's get to work.

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