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.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Armed citizenry and the insurrectionist view of America

How did we get from owning guns for self protection and hunting to carrying loaded guns around in public as a display of "freedom" and "second amendment rights"? How did the second amendment become, to some in the gun rights movement, an excuse to arm themselves against their own government in open displays of insurrection? How did some extremists become wannabe militia members, cops, or actual militia members? How does the corporate gun lobby get away with instilling such fear and paranoia that these folks get their "undies all in a bundle" over misperceived slights against their perceived gun rights? But this is the American gun culture on full display for all to see. It is a minority of crazed gun owners but their antics are going to hurt those reasonable gun owning folks who actually agree with common sense gun laws and responsibilities that come with their rights. So let's take a look at what's going on in the arena of gun rights extremists.

Armed insurrectionists have tried to take over public places with their guns:
Armed demonstrators gathered outside the Texas capitol building in Austin on Wednesday, seeking to highlight the state's right to openly carry rifles. While some were unsettled by the display, the protesters said the event was designed to get people accustomed to the weapons and show that those carrying them were normal citizens.
"That's why we're here. Trying to make people feel more at ease, so they don't feel that way," said Scott Smith, a member of the group Open Carry Texas, which organized the event.
Spectators weren't the only ones made uneasy by the firearms. Members of the group came with their guns loaded, according to KEYE-TV, which at one point prompted troopers stationed at the capitol to ask the protesters to consider removing the magazines from their rifles. They declined, noting that they were within their rights to have live rounds in their weapons.
Later in the day, demonstrators attempted to enter the state capitol building with their guns out. They were turned away by a trooper, who told them that whileconcealed handguns were permitted inside, their semi-automatic assault rifles weren't.
In Colorado, other gun rights activists used Independence Day to rally for their cause. Members of a local tea party group brought their weapons to a parade in Custer County, Colo. on Thursday, though theirs were reportedly not loaded.
At every one of these supposed rallies for freedom and second amendment rights, these armed citizens proclaim that they are normal people who just want everyone to know that guns are not a problem when carried by themselves. The problem with that specious rationale, if you can call it that, is that armed citizens are shooting people every day in public places- for real. So pardon the rest of us if we don't think it's safe for a bunch of second amendment absolutists to be toting their guns around in the public square. In what other country not at war do we see armed citizens at parades, movie theaters, coffee shops, bars, grocery stores, Malls, Walmart stores and other places where people gather? And I can find examples of shootings at all of these places, and have in many of my posts now for years. Most of them are shootings committed by "law abiding" citizens with guns- some intentional, some accidental. Some are "law abiding" because they were able to get guns and ammunition even though they are prohibited purchasers through a federally licensed dealer sale. Don't believe me? Let's look:
  1. Walmart shootings
  2. Grocery store shootings
  3. Mall shootings
  4. Movie theater shootings
  5. Parade shootings
  6. Bar/Restaurant shootings and here and here and here
  7. Coffee shop shootings
  8. School shootings
  9. Health spa shootings/beauty parlor shootings
  10. Workplace shootings and here
  11. Military base shootings and here
  12. Yes, even at airports
You get the idea. This is why the public understands very well that armed citizens in public places are not safe and should leave their guns at home. Then, of course, there are all of those domestic shootings, stray bullets in neighborhoods, accidental discharges, shootings of "intruders" who turn out to be a granddaughter, shooting by kids who find loaded guns around, etc. There are too many to write about here. Oh yes, I did forget about shootings at gun ranges ( and here) , where, of course, one would think gun owners would be particularly safe from shootings. One would be wrong.

I found this video interview with some folks who actually showed up for the failed "armed" rally promoted by far right crazy Adam Kokesh in the nation's capitol on July 4th. Listen as they say, when asked, that they actually support some reasonable measures to keep guns from getting into the hands of those who shouldn't have them. Just keep the heck away from their guns. None of the proposed legislation would take away their guns, but that doesn't seem to compute for these folks. The video is below:

So pardon me for being cynical. Contradictions, confusion and bloviation abound. Much of what they are saying doesn't even make sense. One man is a pacifist ( not a gun owner) but mostly concerned about individual sovereignty. Another thinks that though people should be allowed to carry guns in schools, gun owners should be responsible for themselves while carrying and that guns should be registered. One man refers to "inaledable" rights? I tried spelling this several ways and couldn't find the word, but was referred to a definition of inalienable or natural rights. But this guy carried on as if he knew what he was talking about. Does he or is he just spouting off and pretending he knows what he's talking about? And then this: "This is the government our founders warned us about." What the heck does he mean? He's a pacifist talking about armed resistance against a government run amok. Seriously. Now I don't know about you, but I don't believe we have a "police state" as the man in the video proclaims. And finally, one man says he is not a gun owner and doesn't trust himself with a gun but he's there anyway to support the second amendment. What? These folks are actually anti-government libertarians. Who cares about guns? 5 people showed up at the non-rally.


Anyway, people with common sense don't want armed people in public. These are clowns who think they need a show of their guns ( and/or their extremist beliefs) to proclaim adherance to their second amendment rights and to their version of the Constitution. Never mind that the Supreme Court has given them what they wanted- the right to own and have a gun in the home for self defense and hunting. Justice Scalia, of course, understood that that right comes with some responsibilities and limitations. This wasn't enough for some folks, though, whose real purpose seems to be to arm themselves against their own government and run around like lunatics making stupid and dangerous remarks about President Obama and the government. The American public is not on board with this view of America. These are a minority of gun rights extremists, fueled by the corporate gun lobby and talk about "the guys with the guns make the rules." Wayne LaPierre, of the NRA, said it:

Don't believe him. The "guys with the guns" are not going to make the rules in America about public safety. They have done enough damage thus far by stopping all reasonable legislation to make our communities safer from the devastation due to gun violence. In America, we have a peaceful transition of government in democratic elections- not an armed revolution, as the folks above are talking about. In addition, these same folks have duped state legislators into passing looser gun laws instead of stronger gun laws. That is beginning to change after 12/14 when 20 first graders were massacred in their school rooms. It's time for them to stop their false assignations, paranoid rants and general nonsense. It's time for a change to our nation's gun laws and our nation's gun culture. Enough is enough. We have enough evidence that our country is not safer with more guns carried by more people into more places. Even guns at home for self protection have been turned into weapons of death when accidentally or intentionally shot off as happens far too often. See Ohh Shoot and Kid Shootings blogs if you don't believe me. Let's get to work and take measures to keep us all safe from gun violence in our homes and public spaces.


  1. Dear Douglas Hester,

    I am not sure if it is ignorance, stubbornness, cluelessness or what but you seem to have forgotten that any comments from you will not be published on my blog. Don't bother sending any. They are ridiculous and offensive.

  2. "Later in the day, demonstrators attempted to enter the state capitol building with their guns out. They were turned away by a trooper, who told them that while concealed handguns were permitted inside, their semi-automatic assault rifles weren't."

    This isn't terribly unusual, permit holders in Minnesota are allowed after sending in a letter stating that they intend to carry. One solution to help speed the current decrease in gun accidents would be to implement firearm safety training in schools. At younger ages, something similar to the NRA's Eddie Eagle safety program, but at some point teaching safe operation of firearms. Too many young people do stupid things with firearms because the only knowledge they possess comes from some action movie.
    This safety knowledge learned in school would follow them into adulthood and continue to reap benefits in increased safety through adult life.

    1. That's pure nonsense and magical thinking. Read Kid shootings. Kids are told not to touch guns. They touch them anyway. There will be no gun training in schools Teachers have enough to teach. They are not going to start teaching the NRA's philosophy in school lessons. Eddie Eagle can be taught on a voluntary basis after school if parents want to enroll children. Guns kill too many children. If you think schools are going to teach kids how to shoot guns, you are delusional. That is not the answer. The answer is to keep guns away from children, period. What benefits would they reap from knowing how to shoot a gun? If you want to hunt, fine. The majority of Americans don't own guns and aren't interested. It would be like teaching kids to smoke. Guns kill and injure.

    2. Or we can just do what works OH SO MUCH better and have fewer guns, so we don't need to take away time from genuinely important and useful academic subjects, that don't pose a hazard to anyone.

      NOT having guns would do more to keep us safe than anything you propose -- but then you are one of those gun fetishists, who push more guns when they are not wanted.

      That is why overall gun ownership has been declining steadily, and continues to do so.

  3. "Kids are told not to touch guns. They touch them anyway. There will be no gun training in schools Teachers have enough to teach."

    I'm not suggesting teaching any philosophy. Just safety. Your comments sound a lot like the people who opposed teaching safe sex in schools in order to help prevent the spread of HIV. The current paradigm of keeping kids away from guns doesn't have any effect either positively or negatively. Gun violence, both accidental and intentional has been decreasing over the years. However, we were able to try unconventional techniques when it came to preventing the spread of STD's. And the presidents list of recommendations have spoken of treating gun violence as a public health issue.

    1. Who knew we were going to have a discussion about sex education on this blog? This will be the last comment accepted about that. But as long as you brought it up, Mark, I strongly support teaching about safe sex in schools. It is all part of biology and health. Teaching kids about behaviors that could result in illness, injury or death is a good idea. If anything is taught about guns in schools it would be not to be around guns unless hunting with a parent or target shooting if old enough and not how to shoot them. Gun violence is a public health issue. I don't believe I heard President Obama say that kids should be taught how to shoot guns in schools. In fact, I don't believe I have heard that from anyone but the corporate gun lobby and gun rights extremists- who are not public health experts or teaching professionals.

    2. I'm sick of the fake analogy between sex ed and guns.

      All people have sexuality, and are born with gender and sexuality.

      That is not true of guns. All guns do, as is obvious from our stats on gun violence, is exacerbate aggressive impulses.

      And yet, we see conservatives pushing guns without restriction, and abstinence only failed sex ed.

      How about just NO. It's obvious more guns are bad, time for us to say NO.

  4. The gun guys talk the big talk about upholding the Constitution, and blather on about how the Second Amendment is there to keep the government in check or the guys with the guns will come gunning for them, but they conveniently forget about Article III section iii of the Constitution, which specifically prohibits insurrections. The 2A was never written with home defense of insurrection in mind, but rather for state militias and standing military to protect us against foreign invasion and internal insurrection. Any two-bit American historian would say the same.

    1. Baldr,

      The passage of time and events in history have resulted in changes to the Constitution through both the amendment process and interpretations of the Supreme Court. We have done away with slavery, banned alcohol and then changed our minds, etc.
      For a long time, the second amendment was considered to be a collective right, but more recently, as Japete mentions, it has been determined to be an individual right. And yes, laws regulating it are permitted. That is left to the federal and state legislatures.
      More recently, the Federal courts have determined that citizens have the right to carry a firearm for self defense, again with limitations determined by the state legislatures. Keep in mind that the original amendments were meant as limitations on government.

    2. So now you are a Constitutional scholar. What you are saying is that the amendments to the Constitution were meant to change with the time and conditions of the times. Given that, I would say that the 2nd Amendment was not written with the type of guns we now have circulating or the uses of those guns as well as the kind of people who buy them. As to limitations to government? Where is your information that says that. I believe that is up to interpretation. But you guys can't have it both ways. Is the amendment an individual right to own a gun for self defense in the home as the recent Heller case opined or is it to have guns to use against the duly elected government which many gun rights extremists claim?

    3. It's pretty obvious from the contemporary scholarship (i.e. 19th Century glosses) and actual implementation of the Second Amendment that it is related to The Article I, Section 8, Clause 16 militia.

      The original implementing law was the Militia Acts of 1792 and 1794--not the ensure psychopaths and criminals have gun laws of a similar period.

      WIlliam Rawle described it in his A View of the Constitution of the United States 125--26 1829 (2d ed.) as "They are ready to repel invasion, to suppress insurrection, and preserve the good order and peace of government. That they should be well regulated, is judiciously added. A disorderly militia is disgraceful to itself, and dangerous not to the enemy, but to its own country. The duty of the state government is, to adopt such regulations as will tend to make good soldiers with the least interruptions of the ordinary and useful occupations of civil life. In this all the Union has a strong and visible interest."

      Likewise, people were legally obligated to attend musters, but that fell out of fashion as Joseph Story points out in his Commentaries on the Constitution 3:§§ 1890 "And yet, though this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burthens, to be rid of all regulations. How it is practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see. There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights."

      I should also add that the "insurrectionist" interpretation is completely out of the scope of the US Constitution, which makes it pretty clear that such activities are illegal. While the Constitution can be amended and interpreted in ways that some people find contrary to their misconceptions of the Constitution--the Insurrectionist interpretation is so Constitutionally implausible that I wouldn't bother responding.

      Yet the ignorant persist in believing in something so contrary to history and the text of the US Constitution.

    4. BTW, ssgmarkcr what do you think the term "domestic violence" refers to in US Constitution Article IV, section 4:

      "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence."

      BTW, this is a pretty standard rule of constitutional interpretation which Justice Scalia seems to neglect: "Not a word in the Constitution is intended to be inoperative, and one so significant as the present was not lightly inserted." From William Rawle, A View of the Constitution of the United States 295--304, 305--7 1829 (2d ed.). See also Marbury v. Madison

    5. We have not CHANGED the 2A. The SCOTUS made a bad couple of decisions that are not likely to hold up well in the future.

      But maybe you are right - maybe we SHOULD change the constitution, and GET RID of the 2A. It no longer applies to militias, and we don't benefit from the latest SCOTUS decisions.

    6. @ssgmarkcr I agree that the Constitution is a living document, and should be amended over time. I am glad you see it that way; many on the pro-gun side think of it as an unamendable "bible", at least in regard to the Second Amendment.

      As pointed out by Japete, our culture has certainly changed in the centuries since, far beyond the imaginings of the Founders, and thus the 2A should be updated.

      But there is zero chance that any respectable Constitutional scholar would interpret the 2A to allow for insurrection, nor is there any chance that our lawmakers would amend it to allow for insurrections.

    7. @Baldr, I don't believe I ever said that it should be amended. I said that the interpretation of it has changed over time due to rulings by the Supreme Court. Much the same as the first amendment, and others. I also believe that an amendment to remove or change the second would not succeed because there would not be adequate support for it. Similar to the Equal Rights Amendment.

    8. It defies logic that the ERA hasn't passed yet. Instead the right wing nut Governors and legislatures are taking us backwards with their attacks on Women's rights.

  5. One of my readers whose comments I do not publish made another typical specious claim ( he still sends comments to my posts). In answer to the question about what other country not at war allows armed citizens in public, he said Israel and Switzerland. He is wrong. Read this article about why he is wrong. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/mythbusting-israel-and-switzerland-are-not-gun-toting-utopias/

    In neither country do average citizens carry their guns around with them everywhere they go.

    I guess this reader believes the lies coming from the corporate gun lobby. But since he is a part of that group he is most likely spreading these lies himself.

    1. No civilized country accepts an armed citizenry as normal. And they should not.

      It's stupid.

  6. japete writes: "So pardon the rest of us if we don't think it's safe for a bunch of second amendment absolutists to be toting their guns around in the public square. In what other country not at war do we see armed citizens at parades, movie theaters, coffee shops, bars, grocery stores, Malls, Walmart stores and other places where people gather? And I can find examples of shootings at all of these places, and have in many of my posts now for years"

    So let's speak of facts.

    Individuals holding a permit to carry a firearm in Minnesota commit such crimes at a rate far below that of the general population. In fact, you'll find that the number of permit holders in Minnesota that have been charged with homicide since MN 624.714 came into effect in 2003 is incredibly small.

    The individuals committing the vast majority of violent crimes, shootings, and murders in the United States are not individuals who obtain a legal permit to carry a firearm through their state.

    We know this through independent data gathered & published in states like Minnesota, Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, and others.

    Where is your data from?

    1. People who don't have guns or gun permits don't commit gun crimes because they don't have guns. The very fact that ANY gun permit holders shoot other people or commit crimes should be of concern to us all. The reason the law passed is because all of the permit holders were going to be law abiding citizens. Such has not been the case. These are people with guns. They shouldn't be committing crimes at all. We have "trusted" them to carry loaded lethal weapons in public places. What data are you talking about? I have provided copious examples of shootings in public places, many by "law abiding" gun owners and some by permit holders.

  7. japete writes: "What data are you talking about?"

    Many states, such as Minnesota, are required to provide annual reports on their Permit to Carry data. Minnesota's reports are available here:


    The data shows that the shootings and violent crime in the state, by and large, aren't being committed by Permit to Carry holders - completely different than the story you tell on this blog.

    For example, in 2010, there were 12,515 reports of a violent crime in Minnesota, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report Data. 7 of those were committed by a permit to carry holder and involved a firearm.

    The other 12,507 offenses were committed by others.

    Other states provide similar data - all of it shows a trend quite similar to what we see in the ten years of data here in Minnesota.

    It's not the Permit to Carry holders that you should be focused on - they are among the safest citizens to be around in the state - and the data supports that conclusion.

    1. From the same report, on page 276, I find it disturbing that 20 permit holders were convicted of fleeing the police and careless driving, 115 for controlled substances, 39 for criminal sexual conduct, 58 for disorderly conduct, 76 for carrying under the influence, 141 for domestic assault, 58 for disorderly conduct, 232 for DWI, 84 for assault/ assault motivated by bias and others. If you don't think that's a problem, we have a problem.These folks could just as easily killed or injured someone while doing all of these other things. It is accidents and homicides or gun crime waiting to happen. In fact, Andrew Engeldinger who shot up Accent Signage was a permit holder who shouldn't have been. He killed 6 people and injured others. If you dont' think that's a problem, we have a problem. http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/19666576/andrew-engeldinger-minneapolis-office-shooting