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, August 13, 2013

Happy Birthday to you!!!

Really. Someone accidentally shot her best friend at her birthday party. You just can't make this stuff up. Why bring a gun to a birthday party? Who knows? Stupid and dangerous behavior results in bad and tragic endings. From the article:
"Relatives of a woman accused of killing her best friend last week during a birthday party at Perkins Park said there is no doubt that the fatal shot was fired accidentally.
Lakeisha Bell, 19, of Warren pleaded not guilty at her initial court appearance on Thursday. Her bond was set at $100,000.
She is accused of fatally shooting McKayla Hopkins, 18, of Howland during an Aug. 2 celebration of Bell's 19th birthday.
"They loved each other. This is sad for both of them, both of their families. It hurts all of us that this happened," said Jonathan Penn, who was among several of Bell's family members, including her mom, at Thursday's proceedings.
Bell was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter and carrying a concealed weapon, both felonies. However, on Thursday an additional felony charge of having a weapon under disability was also lodged against her.
She waived her preliminary hearing, meaning the case will be directly presented to a Trumbull County grand jury.
Police, who confirmed she turned herself in to law enforcement on Wednesday, said they believe the shooting was accidental.
Hopkins died of a single gunshot wound to her torso. Funeral services for her were also held Thursday.
"It's really hard on all of us right now," Brenda Johnson, a Bell relative, said.
Detectives were called to the birthday party after receiving reports that someone had been shot.
At the time of the shooting Bell was free on $20,000 bond on another arrest. She had been charged in April with two felony counts of aggravated drug trafficking and was scheduled to appear at an Aug. 28 pretrial hearing in that case. (...) "It was a nice party. It wasn't like there was any fighting or arguing or anything going on," Penn said. "It really was an accident.""
Nice party?

Stupid and dangerous.

Guns are dangerous.


Where did the gun come from?

Why did this woman have a gun in the first place?

What's wrong with our system of gun ownership?

And to continue, ludicrous and dangerous law abiding gun owners also shoot off their guns "accidentally". I write about them often but can hardly keep up with the incidents. Here is another incident of a gun training "expert" accidentally discharging his gun at a class to train gun permit holders to be careful with their guns while carrying. From the article:
Police say an instructor at a central Ohio gun safety class has accidentally shot a student.
The Columbus Dispatch reports 73-year-old Terry J. Dunlap Sr. was demonstrating a handgun at a training facility on Saturday when he fired a bullet that ricocheted off a desk and into the right arm of 26-year-old Michael Piemonte.
The student says the .38-caliber bullet hit him between his elbow and armpit. He says many of the students in the class were nurses who helped stabilize him before he was transported to a Columbus hospital.
Piemonte tells the newspaper it appears Dunlap didn’t know the gun was loaded. Dunlap hasn’t responded to requests for comment.
Remember now that my "gun guy friends" who comment on this blog love to say that most shootings happen in "gun free zones" which is their excuse for having loaded guns in all public places. And yet, most shootings seem to happen in homes with loaded guns or places where guns are allowed. Funny thing, the facts. There is nothing more to say except that guns are dangerous. The more people carry them and own them, the more bullets are going to find their way into the bodies of innocent people.

Are there any "accidental shootings"? Someone is being irresponsible or stupid or dangerous with a loaded weapon designed to injure or kill another human being. This is not OK. This is the American gun culture gone wrong. When a country has over 300 million guns in circulation, bad things are bound to happen. More guns equal more injuries and deaths. It's simple. More guns have not made us safer, that's for sure. But I digress. There are more stories to tell.

More of this insanity.... A man has accidentally shot his wife:
A Richardson man accidentally shot his elderly wife Sunday night while the pair were watching TV, Richardson police said.
Police responded to a call about the shooting at about 9:20 p.m. Sunday at a local hospital where the couple had gone for medical treatment. The couple had been sitting on the couch in their home in the 2300 block of Shady Creek Drive when the man accidentally fired his Colt .380 Mustang, Richardson police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Perlich said.
A bullet struck the woman’s abdomen but did not seriously injure her. After the shooting, the couple drove to a local hospital, where police responded, Perlich said.
“She was very lucky. He was lucky,” he said. “It looks like it was strictly accidental.”
Stupid and dangerous.

Lucky? Yes indeed.

Irresponsible behavior by law abiding gun owner.

Happening more and more often.

A private gun sale ( no background check of course) went wrong when the gun discharged, injuring both the seller and the buyer:
Two employees of Sharp Communications in Huntsville, Alabama were in the business' parking lot engaging in a private handgun sale when one of the men unintentionally discharged the weapon. The bullet went through one man's hand into the other man's abdomen. 
The men were taken to the local hospital for treatment. Their injuries were not life-threatening.
The company's CEO said the sale had nothing to do with Sharp Communications. He also noted that both men were on the clock at the time of the incident and the management was discussing how to handle the incident.
Alabama just passed a new gun law allowing employees to bring loaded guns to the workplace but have to keep them in their vehicle. The law went into effect August 1st. 
Oops. Good ideas all the way around.... allowing employees to keep loaded guns in their cars; employees, on work time, making private gun transactions with no background checks; in this case, employees shooting each other when the gun discharged during the sale.

Stupid and dangerous.


Bad law.

Simple case for the need to strengthen, not weaken gun laws.

Accidents waiting to happen.

No background checks on gun sales.

What could possibly go wrong?

Guns are dangerous.

Just take a look at more of the daily carnage, some of it purposeful, some accidental on the Gun Report by Joe Nocera, the Kid Shootings blog, Walmart shootings blog and Ohh Shoot blogs. You just can't make this stuff up. Those of us who are blogging, tweeting and posting articles on Facebook pages and other media sources can hardly keep up with the shootings going on. Just this morning, I found this article about a shooting in the Minneapolis suburbs. Really. It is happening in a city near you every day. No matter what the gun rights advocates say, it is tough to make a case that we don't need to do something to prevent some of this ludicrous carnage. This is not OK. It should be alarming enough to get our politicians off of their backsides and screaming from the rafters. Do they? No. Why not? Follow the money and the insidious influence of the corporate gun lobby on public safety policy. This is not OK. This is about saving lives, nothing more, nothing less.

Where is common sense? Aren't we better than this?


I would like to add this story to my post because it says something about our gun culture. A young man pulled out his gun in a hospital maternity room an hour after his wife gave birth and shot himself in front of her. We just didn't hear stories like this in years past. When guns were kept at home for self defense or hunting, people just didn't carry their guns around in public. But because of our nation's loosened gun permit laws, now people all over America are taking guns with them to public places. And yes, the hospital has a no guns policy because they have to in order to comply with state law. They didn't use to need a no guns policy. It was understood that people weren't carrying guns around on their persons before conceal and carry laws were passed. But now, just about anyone can get a permit to carry. And carry they do. Sometimes they ignore the posted signs. But if states only gave out permits to people who could prove they needed them as most did before the corporate gun lobby exerted it's uber influence on state legislators, this guy would likely not have even thought of bringing a gun into a hospital maternity ward. True, he might have killed himself anyway or done it at home instead of in the hospital. But could this have been more awful for this young mother? How do you tell this story to the child about his or her birth? She will likely have nightmares for many years about watching her husband shoot himself right in front of her. There is a ripple effect to shootings. Homicides, suicides, or accidental shootings reach far into families and communities. Again, this is a function of our American gun culture. Too many people are carrying too many guns into too many places and tragedies are happening daily.


Sorry. One more. I am having a problem trying to decide which incident I should add here since there are so many. But let's choose this one because it is so over the top that maybe even my gun guy friends would agree there is something wrong with this guy with guns. I remind my readers that this man is a law abiding gun owner. From the article:
Authorities believe that Simione “inquired to have a person come up from El Salvador, specifically a MS-13 gang member, and offered to pay up to $150,000 to dispose of his wife, mother-in-law and brother-in-law, and child, if he did not receive custody of the child," Broward Sheriff's Office Det. Ricky Libman said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
He described Simione – who lives in Dania Beach and is the owner of Bulldog Tactical Equipment in Fort Lauderdale – as a survivalist who stores food in case there's a natural disaster or the U.S. government collapses.
“He’s made statements to me and his employees about how unhappy he is with government policy, specifically the president," said Libman, of BSO's Violent Crimes Unit.
Workers fortified Simione's home "in lieu of a SWAT or a law enforcement assault," Libman said. He described one room as "a last stand room."
“The back of the door was a silhouette of an average-sized person that would be on the outside of the door with X’s marked where to shoot at to make sure to hit a vital organ. He basically set up kill zones in his house for an assault," Libman said. "The walls were refortified, the windows were barred. It would be a nightmarish tactical situation if anybody had to actually go in there."
Simione made his first appearance before Broward Judge John Hurley Tuesday morning, where his bond was set.
"The court's very concerned on a number of levels," Hurley said. "Number one is, the court is concerned with his alleged willingness to hire a hitman to kill everyone in his family including his own child."
According to the arrest affidavit read by Hurley, Simione's wife went to the Broward Sheriff's Office on Friday to report alleged child abuse by Simione against the couple's 9-month-old child.
The wife told detectives Simione had displayed paranoid behavior recently, including violent outbursts and delusions, and had been abusing illegal steroids, Hurley said. In one of the outbursts, Simione threw their child onto a table, causing a laceration, the wife said, according to Hurley.
She also said she had seen bomb-making materials at Simione's homes in Dania and Stuart, Hurley said.
When detectives interview some of Simione's employees, they said he had become increasingly hostile and paranoid, had been regularly making threats toward his wife in front of the employees and had "expressed distaste for the U.S. government policies," Hurley said.
"The employees said you repeatedly have threatened the President of the United States, saying that he should be murdered," Hurley said.
Employees said Simione had been stockpiling firearms, ammunition and bomb-making materials and had threatened to kill anyone who attempted to arrest him or take his child, Hurley said.
Simione's employees said they had witnessed him taking steroids and had helped him reinforce his home in Dania to prevent breaches by law enforcement and had made "kill zones" if police made entry into the home, Hurley said.
One employee said he had been approached by Simione who asked whether he could help him find someone to kill his wife, their child and his wife's mother and brother, Hurley said.
Simione offered $150,000 for their deaths and "tagged each person with code names," Hurley said.
Employees said they saw a large amount of guns, ammunition and bomb-making materials in Simione's house, including threaded galvanized metal pipes, threaded pipe caps, nails, gun powder, propane cylinders, wire and batteries, Hurley said.
Simione had .50-caliber sniper rifles, automatic rifles and illegal ammunition including armor-piercing rounds, Hurley said.
According to the Broward Sheriff's Office, 68 rifles, shotguns and handguns were found in Simione's house, along with between 60,000-70,000 rounds of ammunition.
All of the guns are legally owned but were taken for safekeeping because of a protection order recently obtained by Simione's wife, the BSO said.
Raise your hand if you think this is OK.


  1. " A young man pulled out his gun in a hospital maternity room an hour after his wife gave birth and shot himself in front of her."

    I'm not seeing anything in the article which suggests that he had a carry permit. So you are suggesting that this man who seems to have planned his demise, would have been stopped by the fact that he didn't have a carry permit, and obviously not stopped by the no guns allowed sign?

    1. Good grief Mark. Are you not concerned with the fact that too many people are shooting themselves every day? That was my point. The fact that you want to argue about the particulars says everything I need to know about you.

    2. Further, I am guessing that he was a permit holder and perhaps we will get that information. But many states don't allow the press to find that out. That is because the gun rights extremists don't want the public to know that permit holders are not as safe as was claimed when the laws passed.

    3. "But many states don't allow the press to find that out."
      The reason for making this information available to only to law enforcement and prosecutors is illustrated by the recent listing of personal information of gun owners in some counties in New York State. And of course, often this information still seems to find its way to the press through unofficial channels.
      As you know, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension publishes an annual report on persons with carry permits and part of this report documents criminal convictions, even those that weren't committed using a firearm. I cant speak for other states, but that doesn't seem to be the case in Minnesota.

  2. I don't even know where to begin, but I will say that as a new father myself, I cannot fathom what brought this man to the point where he felt the need to end his life in that way. Its for that reason I disagree with your read on this tragedy.

    Suicide isn't the result of a gun culture gone awry. I know first hand from having lost people and from having tended to suicidal people as an EMT, that there's a LOT going on in the heads of someone wanting to take their own life and that politics and machismo have very little to do with it.

    You want to call this the result of gun culture? I submit instead that its a result of our own soulless culture that failed this young man and ultimately, the child and his wife. I don't use the word coward lightly, but suicide is always an act of weakness. I do temper that criticism however, with the knowledge that American culture in general makes such human failings impossible to address - we treat mental illness and indeed treatment thereof as the punch line of a cheap joke on a poorly written talk show.

    As Americans, we're obsessed with denying that life outside is tough, tougher with the horrendous economy, racial divisions and overall satisfaction in this so called "Land of Plenty." We swallow our anger, our fear, our rage and internalize it. For some it doesn't manifest at all out of a tacit acceptance of the lousy landscape we've grown accustomed to. For others, the internalization gets to a dangerous point and tragedies ensue.

    As intense as I am on the subject of the second amendment and as much as I advocate for responsible concealed and otherwise public carry, I just can't link this tragedy to the overall conversation. You acknowledge that he might have killed himself in some other way -- clearly he planned to do this, clearly he was at the ready and had thought this dramatic and cowardly exit out.

    If we want to reduce suicide in this country - by firearm or whatever means (in 4 years as an EMT, I saw 25 suicides, 2 via firearm), the conversation has to be about better mental health and working to remove the stigmatization those people suffer in addition to their personal demons. It should be an act of courage, as opposed to weakness to seek treatment. It should be seen as cowardly NOT to seek treatment -- until then, this won't stop and I can assure you that those desperate for a way out (again, Ive seen it) will find their way out.

    Sure, a gun makes it easier and I'd submit further that the brutality of this story is beset by the fact that he wanted to go out in a memorable way -- perhaps as a means of being remembered himself -- but in the final analysis, this young man was without a doubt, determined to die that day and in that room.

    1. Oh but it is part of our gun culture gone wrong. 60-70% of gun deaths are suicides in America- something not seen in other countries. Guns make suicide much easier to accomplish. In one quick second, it's over. I know a little about suicide myself. My husband's brother committed suicide by jumping off of a very high bridge. My sister's shooter put a plastic bag over his head and suffocated himself after he murdered her. Yes, indeed, there are mental health issues all over the place. I am aware of many of them and have dealt with some of them as an educator. If someone is having mental health problems, families need to be more cognizant of whether or not they have a gun. They may try another way but guns are efficient and quick. We can work on both issues at one time. In fact we can't look at the issue of gun deaths without including suicide and the easy access to guns to make them very available as a method to kill oneself. In this graph you can see that the U.S. does not have the highest rate of suicide deaths http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate
      This article shows that the suicide rate is growing in the U. S. and that most suicides are by firearm.
      This article talks about how suicide by firearms should be part of our national discussion about gun policy and prevention of gun deaths. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/guns-suicide_n_3240065.html

  3. Joan, if you're interested at all in public safety, you'll agree that no good comes from the idea of the press releasing information as to who in a given community owns guns or is so licensed to carry them.

    1. No indeed. I think it's important to know if someone who shot someone was a permit holder. That is good for public safety because if we realize that permit holders are not always safe with their guns we may have to change our loose conceal and carry laws. That would be better for public safety. Fewer people with fewer guns in fewer public places will equal fewer gun deaths. Same with background checks on Internet and private gun show sellers. Same thing with stopping trafficking and straw purchasing- all opposed by the corporate gun lobby. All would save lives over time.

  4. After the fact, sure- I'm all for a full disclosure of the facts at hand....but certainly never should the press, with its agenda over safety mindset, be allowed to publish names and addresses of permit holders. As far as changing concealed carry, I again disagree- people are lined up in long lines for concealable handguns and the classes to carry them here in Massachusetts - as liberal a state as we are, residents are fighting for and often winning the right to conceal.

    1. They are still in a small minority of people who have managed to get laws changed for their paranoia about danger around every corner. Of course there are people who want to carry guns. Does that mean they should? There are too many who shouldn't and get permits anyway. Some states require no training whatsoever to carry a gun in public. This is clearly a public safety problem. There is no need to carry a gun in public. What is your reason? The risks are just too high compared to any benefit.

  5. In Massachusetts, concealed carry is on the rise - but the permitting process is just as tough to deal with, depending on the town you live in. I was trained by a state approved trainer, took additional training for concealed carry, had to get letters of reference etc before I was able to get my ALP or All Lawful Purposes endorsement.

    In some ways, I think the process is overboard, especially where certain chiefs simply refuse any licensure, but I live with it. Hell, we cant even get mace or pepper spray without a blessing from the local police department - something not seen in most states, which puts a lot of people, especially women on college campuses at a huge disadvantage.

    As far as why I carry? Simple - I know better. I know enough that the police cannot protect me everywhere I go. I know that carrying money or driving a nice truck/motorcycle through certain areas of the state makes me vulnerable and I for one refuse to believe that as an American, living in the United States, that I am free to travel to ANY public area at any time of day/night without being accosted or otherwise attacked.

    Aside from the near horror movie quality things I saw as an EMT, I've also been attacked
    in an attempted robbery. I say "attempted" because the morons misjudged my professional dress as an easy mark - I was able to fight them off successfully using a hard brief case and my bare hands - but Joan, what if there were more than 2? What if one of them had a weapon? I choose not to cower to bullies, thugs and criminals, its just not in me. I have the right to live, I have the right to defend myself and I have a duty not only to myself, but to my family, to return home safely.

    Make no mistake, I'm not paranoid, not in the least. I liken a firearm to my martial arts training, to wearing a seatbelt in the truck, a helmet on the motorcycle or carrying medical gear - its an insurance policy that I hope never to activate, but have it as a fallback measure. As I stated, the police cannot protect me from crime, that's my responsibility. If you choose not to be armed, that's your choice -- please don't pretend however, that you know better than I do or that you or any mass of people can presume to speak for me.

    1. But you've never needed your gun for self defense so far in your life. I've lived quite a long time and traveled all over the country by car and plane. I've traveled all over the world as well. Not once have I felt like I have needed a gun. I have not been robbed or nearly robbed either. But thinking a gun in that situation would help you is false. Most officers and safety experts advise you to just give the robber your money and let them walk away. Introducing a gun will elevate the situation and make you less safe actually. Your gun could be grabbed and used against you or whoever happens to be with you. The element of surprise is also at play. The idea that you get your gun out in time to do anything useful when you are taken by surprise is the myth of carrying a gun. Even police officers can't always do that and even police officers miss their targets often though they are trained many times a year. I like the police officers in my community and recognize that they will protect me if I need them. They have done that so far. On the rare occasions we have called the police for a ruckus outside of our home or a disturbance, they have come to our neighborhood and responded appropriately. Just last night I went to a meeting in my downtown area. There were a bunch of young folks hanging around and engaged in what seemed like suspicious behavior. Someone called the police. They came immediately and arrested one of the people. I didn't feel as if I needed a gun. The police took care of it. The police do protect me from crime. They can't stop it all from happening in the first place but neither can you. Your gun is more likely to be used against you or someone you love than in self defense. Carrying that gun is actually a risk to you. But clearly you don't see it that way. I do. The facts happen to be on my side.

  6. Again, that's your choice and while you say you have facts, I have first hand knowledge from being on the street. I've seen what has happened to the people who have taken your advice as well as that of the police, to just hand it over -- trust me, it didn't end well for them and as such, I take my own precautions.

    I got the same speech from the police the night of my attack. When they finally caught up to the guys who jumped me, a month later, one of them had an outstanding warrant for, you guessed it, aggravated assault and manslaughter....are you saying it would have been better for me to have rolled the dice on a young man who previously stomped another man with steel toed boots? That's what he did, Joan. He stomped a man in the chest and face repeatedly. Should I have simply trusted that that night would have been my "lucky night?" No. I read the situation, assessed my odds and turned the table on 2 very vile human beings.

    I say this not to be argumentative or disrespectful, but to give you a real world perspective on why some carry firearms. Its your choice to not carry, I respect that. But its MY choice to prepare as I have -- at some point in this discussion where you're asking for common ground, your side is going to have to come to terms with the fact that there are rational reasons behind carrying firearms and that those of us who have the knowledge, experience and reason behind it, simply will never back down in this fight.

    1. It's your choice and your risk. Only a small percentage of you have chosen to carry. That must mean the 98% of us who don't are fools, huh? I don't know one person who has needed a gun for self defense. I don't know one person who has said that a gun could have stopped some sort of attack on them or their families. In fact, I don't anyone who has been robbed at gun point. I guess we hang out with different crowds. I do, however,know quite a few people whose loved ones or friends have been shot to death. And most of those by law abiding gun owners in fact. Most of them in their own homes. Funny how that works. I know a few people who have survived shootings ( Colin Goddard at Virginia Tech) who knows that if he had introduced a gun, he would have been dead instead of just suffering major injuries from which he has recuperated). I know people whose loved ones have been shot in public places where they were taken totally by surprise by someone with a gun who, if we had stronger gun laws, would not have been able to have a gun in the first place. I know for a fact that lives can be saved. Your way hasn't done that so far. The other way is just not working. Changing the laws won't affect you one whit. Show me how stronger background checks will affect you. Give me examples- real world examples. And if you weren't allowed to carry your gun in public, I am guessing that you would live a nice long life without that gun. Hopefully you will also do so knowing that a loaded gun is a risk to you.