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.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Independence Day

This post has been updated since first posted.

I love the July 4th holiday because in northern Minnesota it means that summer is finally here and at its' peak. We waited for a long time this year for summer to show up. Spring was long and very cold and wet. Now the mosquitoes are thick and the flies are biting. But the temperatures are warm, sometimes hot, and overall pleasant. Every year on the 4th of July there are senseless shootings when idiots with guns think it's OK to shoot their guns into the air in celebration.  My friend, Joe Jaskokla was shot in the head by a bullet from just such celebratory gun fire on a New Year's Eve many years ago. He lived to tell his story in the linked blog post, above. Obviously his life has never been the same, leaving him permanently disabled with the many challenges that come with that. The long term health care and emotional affects can't be measured.

This double tragedy illustrates for us again how devastating celebratory gunfire can be. What goes up does come down. From the linked article, above:
As the bullet rose in the air, Michelle Packard and her fiancé were embarking on a life together.
As soon as she received a doctorate degree from Michigan State University, they were going to move to Maryland for her job as a research biologist with the Department of Defense.
Then the bullet, fired in apparent celebration by a stranger believed to be more than a mile away, began to fall. Its descent would destroy those bright plans and eventually contribute to the deaths of the couple.
The projectile struck Packard, 34, in the head while she awaited a Fourth of July fireworks show in downtown Lansing last year. The Mensa member and high school valedictorian died a day later.
Her fiancé, Wes Thomas, 29, a struggling community college student who had found stability in his three-year relationship with Packard, was lost without her, friends said. After an apparent suicide attempt in November, he fatally shot himself in May.
With another Fourth of July approaching, family and friends of the couple want people to know the folly and danger of firing guns into the air to celebrate holidays such as July 4 and New Year’s.
“He had lost the love of his life,” Randy Thomas said about his son. “My heart breaks twice for him.”
Death by stray shooting is a rare occurrence. No one has been arrested in Packard’s killing.
A 2012 study by the University of California-Davis School of Medicine found 6 percent of the 284 stray shootings in the United States over a 12-month period involved celebratory gunfire. None was fatal.
The effect of such shootings linger long after they occur. A year after the Lansing incident, the Packard and Thomas families continue to struggle with their loss.
One bullet. Two deaths. Countless heartbreak.
“It affected so many people,” said Packard’s mother, Pam Leidlein, a retired teacher and elementary school principal from Macomb Township. “She was happy. We all were. Then the summer of 2012 crashed everything.”
The irony here is that a bullet senselessly took the life of a young woman and now a bullet has taken the life of the man who loved her. Guns are dangerous.

This year, there is something new. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, in cooperation with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, are demanding Independence from Gun Violence. This is a common sense campaign to let our leaders know we want them to become more independent from the corporate gun lobby. On this Fourth of July, gun rights groups have come up with some pretty ridiculous events that fly in the face of family fun.

A plan to organize armed insurrectionists at the Mall in DC for this July 4th was scuttled. After the event became public and highly criticized the group cancelled their audacious plans to show off their guns in our nation's Capitol. From the Media Matters article:
Adam Kokesh is cancelling his planned July 4 armed march on Washington, D.C., and instead calling for a march on all 50 state capitols with the goal of overthrowing the federal government.
Kokesh, a former host for Russian state-sponsored RT television who now hosts an internet radio show, told conspiracy theorist radio host Pete Santilli that it was time to "escalate our tactics" before cancelling the Washington march and urging supporters to march on their state capitol instead.
On May 28, Santilli, a promoter of conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks who recently drew scrutiny from the Secret Service over vicious comments made about Hillary Clinton, aired an interview where Kokesh read from a press release and provided other details about the expansion of his plans.
Previously, Kokesh launched a Facebook page to organize his armed march on Washington, an event he hoped would draw at least 1,000 attendees. The page currently lists more than 5,000 attendees. 
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Kokesh detailed how he and others planned to march across the Memorial Bridge -- which separates Washington from Virginia -- while openly carrying firearms in violation of District of Columbia law. Kokesh told Buzzfeed that the event would be non-violent and said, "We're not going to resist government by force in any way." The Facebook description of the event stated, "This will be a non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent." District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier stated that those who bring weapons illegally into Washington would face arrest. 
In the press release, Kokesh called for "A new American revolution" where "the American Revolutionary Army will march on each state capital to demand that the governors of these 50 states immediately initiate the process of an orderly dissolution of the federal government through secession and reclamation of federally held property." Kokesh also gave the federal government a one-year deadline to comply with his demands before possibly taking violent action, writing, "Should one whole year from this July 4th pass while the crimes of this government are allowed to continue, we may have passed the point at which non-violent revolution becomes impossible."
"Unless the government chooses to make it violent"? Kokesh's words are promoting violence and insurrection against the government. Coming from such a fine upstanding citizen, how seriously should he be taken?  What if someone believes what he is saying and acts on his words? I can't wait to find out what happens at state capitols on this fourth of July where millions of people gather for family fun, picnics, games, music and fireworks displays. After canceling this great show of weapons, the group had to find a way to celebrate the 4th with guns so they decided on a kids parade with toy guns. You just can't make this stuff up. From the article:
Second Amendment enthusiasts wielding water pistols and Pop-Tarts will march on Washington on Wednesday.
Their demonstration begins at the Arlington Memorial Bridge at 9 a.m., wends through the National Mall, then -- after delivering toys and money to a Toys for Tots representative, and refilling the water guns -- advances into what is described on the event Facebook page as a "braveheart style gun battle" at the Washington Monument. This battle is to be followed with face painting, kickball and other activities not usually associated with a Second Amendment rally.
You've just got to love the description of the event ( from the linked article):
The Toy Gun March is a gathering of liberty loving people and their families to promote responsible gun ownership, private charity and to bring public perception of gun owners into a better light.
In order to best communicate the importance of 2nd Amendment rights to the citizens of the District of Columbia, Freedom Fighters around the globe will descend on Washington D.C. armed with toy guns on July 3rd, 2013.
Activists are encouraged to bring fake pistols with orange tips, water guns, nerf guns, anything peaceful to make a statement about our 2nd amendment rights. Due to the fact that it is currently illegal to carry a loaded firearm into the District of Columbia, we liberty lovers have decided to tweak the nose of big government and show Obama what a clown he is for trying to restrict our natural rights. Join us as we march on DC fully armed with toy guns!
We're locked and loaded for a great event on July 3rd at 9AM. Participants for the march will be expected to adhere to certain structural guidelines in order to provide for our safety and security during the event. If you have any questions about any of the items below, please feel free to ask. We want everyone involved to have a safe and fun event.
And there's more for us to think about here:
"I hope events like this start to change public perception so maybe they will take them," said Petersen. He said part of his goal with the march is to show that "libertarians aren't all crazy gun nuts" who don't care about kids. 
Seems like the pot calling the kettle black, but I digress. To equate kids ( and adults) carrying toy guns with the second amendment is a stretch but we know the pro gun extremists will jump at anything to make false claims that their second amendment rights are being trampled upon. I wonder who thinks that the second amendment has anything to do with toy guns and water pistols? The real clowns are the folks who thought this would be a good event and would actually "tweak the nose" of big government and Obama. The hatred of their own government and their democratically elected President on this national holiday is not only un-Patriotic, it's downright scary. We don't need to have loaded guns in public to display our patriotism and love of our country. This show of bravado is just that- bravado. If these folks truly love America and care about its' citizens, they would be demanding stronger gun laws to make us all safer from the daily carnage in our communities.

All of this are more examples of the fear and paranoia promoted by the corporate gun lobby and its' supporters. I hope no one shows up with an actual loaded gun to this event. Toy guns are not "locked and loaded."We could forgive people for mistaking the event for an open carry rally since the rhetoric on the Facebook page for the event is clearly promoting gun rights and the co-opted language of freedom and liberty associated with gun carrying. Families don't need to have guns to have fun on Independence Day.

Other family events have been co-opted this July 4th by the gun rights extremists. Like this one promoting a gun give-away at a family baseball game. It didn't go so well for this Alabama baseball team: 
The Huntsville Stars' "Second Amendment Night" promotion, which was to have the giveaway of three weapons from a raffle this Wednesday night, has been cancelled after receiving widespread national publicity.
The promotion involved the local gun store, Larry's Pistol and Pawn, and was to be part of the Stars' July 4 holiday celebration.
According to Stars' general manager Buck Rogers, "It's in the best interest of baseball." 
He acknowledged that the Stars heard from both the Southern League and Minor League Baseball headquarters regarding the promotion and were pressured into making the cancellation.
"We're part of a larger organization and we have to uphold the game of baseball. It comes before everything we do," Rogers told The Times/al.com. "Some teams do crazy promotions and fund-raising and we do that too. We're still going to continue to have promotions and things to bring family entertainment to Huntsville."
"Second Amendment Night"? Whatever. What does baseball have to do with the Second Amendment? Great idea to give away guns at a family event- especially considering how many children lose their lives to guns every day- 8 on average. I'm sure everyone will get along just fine at this event without the gun giveaway. Saner heads prevailed this time. At least some folks have common sense.

Have fun on this Fourth of July. Enjoy your families and stay safe out there whatever you do with your families and friends.


As long as we are talking about America on her upcoming birthday, and guns, let's look at this article, titled: America's Gun Problem. From the article:
America is truly an exceptional nation. 
It's not because of our education system, our economy or our scientific establishment. 
No, America is really only exceptional when it comes to the number of guns, the frequency of gun murders, and the shockingly high number of annual gun deaths.
Other countries don't have the problems that the United States does. Other industrialized countries don't have tens of thousands of gun deaths per year, or regular mass shootings, or a population as armed as it is violent. 
Other countries don't have America's gun problem. 
Here, we take a look at the data that shows why America is so unlike the rest of the world when it comes to the popularity and the abuse of guns. We'll look at the role that policy-makers play in the gun control debate, and we'll look at what can be done. 
It isn't pretty, but it's important. Hundreds of thousands of American lives hang in the balance. 
Please do take a look at the graphs and charts showing America's problem with guns. Yes, America, we are awash in guns. It's not a pretty picture. We can do something about it if we have the will and if our lawmakers stop being intimidated by the guys with the guns who seem to think their America is a better America.


Looks like the "toy gun" demonstration in Washington D.C. was a bust:
They came armed and ready for a showdown, but not for the type of gunfight one might expect.
Gun rights advocates rally at 'toy gun march' in DC
A group of about 20 protesters toting toy guns marched through Washington, D.C., Wednesday to promote responsible gun ownership and support the Second Amendment, NBC Washington reported.
"Due to the fact that it is currently illegal to carry a loaded firearm into the District of Columbia, we liberty lovers have decided to tweak the nose of big government and show Obama what a clown he is for trying to restrict our natural rights," organizers wrote on the event's Facebook page. (...) The toy gun procession also had a lighter side. It raised money for Toys for Tots which, perhaps ironically, does not accept toy guns as donations. After the march, group organizers wrote that they hoped to hold a "Braveheart style" water-gun fight, in addition to games of kickball and ultimate Frisbee. (...) According to the Huffington Post, group members also sought to hold a contest to see who could best nibble a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun, mocking the highly-publicized case of Josh Welch, an 8-year-old Maryland boy who was suspended from school in March for biting his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.
So much for "tweaking the nose of big government." What a laughable bunch of clowns. And it wasn't a family event after all- just a bunch of gun nuts trying to make a ridiculous point.


I was wrong. Adam Kokesh held a "successful rally" of one- himself- at Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C.:
Adam’s definition of ‘success‘, must be that U.S. Park Police are aware of the video, according to a spokesman, and responded by going to Freedom Plaza to investigate the matter. Park Police officers did not find Kokesh, or any sign of a protest going on in the vicinity, nor can they determine how the video was recorded, and if and when Kokesh may have been to Freedom Plaza with a gun. And where are his fellow gun fondlers who are supposed to march beside him?
Whatever. I would say that the "freedom fighters" have fallen pretty flat on this July 4th holiday. Apparently people had better things to do than show up at community Fourth of July events with loaded guns.


  1. A march with children wielding toy guns and poptarts? For real? Talk about desperation. And to use their children to advance their extremist agenda is, frankly, just pitiful. It makes a mockery of their own movement.

  2. Baldr,

    Should we count how often each side of this debate has seen fit to include children as both foreground and background during their respective events? The latest I've seen was Illinois Governor Quinn when he announced his veto of the bipartisan compromise legislation enacting a carry permit system to comply with an order by the federal courts.

    1. At least the side that Baldr and I represent has children in the background to illustrate the point that too many children die at the end of a gun every day. I don't think your side can say that. Your side is using children to promote an agenda of more guns in more places making them less safe.

  3. I just find it ironic that Baldr uses the same type of comments regarding using children to advance a side's particular agenda that pro gun rights advocates say about gun control advocates. Both sides can argue that theirs is the more noble cause, but inserting children into the political theatre is in my opinion dishonorable, by whatever side uses them.
    And it distracts from speaking to the issues because it just encourages the politicians to even greater heights of idiocy.

    1. Give it a rest Mark. Have you forgotten so soon that 20 little children were massacred on 12/14 of last year? If we can't talk about gun safety and children together, then who are we? The pro gun side is promoting guns for kids and for everyone. That is a bad idea clearly. There was just another shooting of a 4 year old by a sibling. Check out Kid Shootings blog. http://kidshootings.blogspot.com/