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.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

No More Names in Minnesota

Yesterday I participated in the No More Names rally in Minneapolis. The Mayors Against Illegal Guns bus came to Minnesota to demand that our Congressional delegation support the background check bill now languishing in Congress. Hundreds of people attended the event as well as all of the local press and some press from Greater Minnesota. The event started with speeches by Minneapolis Mayor Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Coleman. Rabbi Michael Latz introduced the event which also included speeches by Sami Rahamim, Carlee Soto and John Souter who survived the Accent Signage mass shooting last September. Sami Rahamim, whose father did not survive that shooting, gave an inspirational speech. Sami is 17 years old and has become a major and very effective advocate for sensible gun laws. Others spoke as well. Supporters were in attendance from Moms Demand Action for GunSense in America, Brady Campaign, Protect Minnesota, Jewish Community Action, Take Action Minnesota, and other peace and religious groups. From the article, linked above:
Speaking to the crowd gathered Wednesday morning, city council member Don Samuels decried the failure of such legislation to pass.
“A few years ago a child in our state swallowed a small lead pendant off a sneaker,” he said. “And within a year Congress changed laws to make it illegal to put a lead pendant on a piece of clothing. And yet every year lead pendants shaped in cylindrical form invade the bodies of our children involuntarily and we do not have the courage to change any laws in their interest.”
Indeed. Our leaders do not have the necessary courage to do the right thing. That is why the bus came to Minnesota.The event was meant to call attention to the number of people shot by bullets since 12/14. Sami Rahamim reminded us that the number is now just over 7500 and still increasing.The number should be frightening and concerning to Americans. The gun lobby hates this campaign. They don't like victims because reading their names and showing their photos makes the shootings very real and the public may then feel the need to get involved to stop the shootings. Since 20 small children were massacred on 12/14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a different spotlight has been lit on shootings in general and on shootings of children in particular. The nation wept with the families of these children and then Congress failed to act. Why would we not want to protect our children after what happened last December? I wrote my last post about efforts to get more kids to use and shoot guns and also about irresponsible adults who leave guns out intentionally or accidentally where curious kids find them and use them. The gun rights extremists got pretty exercised about that post. They insist that they are careful with their guns and that children need to be taught to use guns and respect them. While that may be true for some, there are just too many children who lose their lives because of a gun. Gun safety is one thing. Making sure guns are not cavalierly left out, loaded and ready to shoot, is another. Too many law abiding gun owners are not responsible. Guns are dangerous and designed to kill other people. Teaching kids to shoot a gun is different than teaching them how to swim or ride a bike. It is serious business and it doesn't always work out so well. Does anyone remember the young boy whose father thought he should be able to shoot a machine gun at a gun show? I do.

But I digress. Below is a video from one of the local T.V. media outlets about the event:


I read the names of people who were shot on Christmas Day of 2012. It was startling to realize how many families got news of a loved one's death while celebrating a holiday ( if they do celebrate the holiday that is). One of the victims was a 2 year old. How did that child die? It didn't say. One was an 87 year old man. How did he die? It didn't say.

While at the rally I spoke with Carlee Soto. We two belong to an exclusive club- that of sisters who have lost a sister to a bullet. We didn't join willingly. In fact, at the rally, many of the speakers talked about how all the people who were there as victims or survivors were there by a tragic happenstance. None of us thought we would be attending events like this or telling our stories as we have done many times. I am so impressed that Carlee was able to tell her story about  her sister without crying. It is a difficult thing to speak the name and feel the loss of someone you loved dearly.

The No More Names bus will be traveling to other places where mass shootings have occurred and/or where Congress members are reluctant to sign on to a simple background check bill. Why would anyone be opposed to a background check for all guns sales? Why would anyone be opposed to background checks at gun shows and on the Internet, excluding other private sales? The question needs to be asked and answered. There is no good answer to the question. The answer is that too many of our lawmakers are beholden to the corporate gun lobby. Too many of our lawmakers are afraid to stand up for what they know is right because of fear of retribution or losing their seats. What happened to common sense and integrity? When this many die from any other cause in America, we get to work and figure out how to reduce or prevent the deaths and injuries. That is how we ended up with mandatory seat belt laws. That is why we ended up with no smoking in public laws. That is why we have speed limits and insist on months of driver's education and behind the wheel training. That is why we have hard to open bottle caps on medicines. That is why we have child locks for cupboards. That is why we require yards with pools to have fences. That is why we have recalls of cribs and children's toys. It's all about saving lives. What's wrong with that again? I'm waiting for the answer.

Some of the speakers referred to the number of people who have to have background checks to perform certain jobs or to work with children. Adopting a pet requires a background check. A teaching job requires a background check. At my church, anyone who works with kids and/or does overnight trips with children has to have a background check. Medical professionals have to get background checks. I could go on. But the reason for these checks is simple. We are trying to protect citizens from harm from another human being who may not have the best interests of others in mind or who may have committed a crime or has been a sexual abuse offender, etc. The bottom line is safety. Our children should be able to be safe from those who would harm them. Our citizens should be safe from the devastation that gun violence is causing in our communities. That is what this is all about. Nothing more, nothing less. Let's get to work and make the changes necessary to keep us all free from gun violence. Let's not continue to read names of those who have been shot and are shot every day in our communities.

We are better than this.

I would like to add a footnote to this post. The Senate has, at long last, confirmed the first ever appointed Director of the ATF- Todd Jones, current Minnesota U.S. Attorney. The NRA lobbyists and their minions have fiercely opposed appointing a director to the organization that monitors and enforces gun laws. Why? I guess they don't like laws to be enforced. This is good news for the country and for public safety. Todd Jones is a man of integrity and the qualifications necessary to run the ATF. I had the privilege to meet him once and found him to be an engaging and interested in dealing with the many challenges before him. I met him at a victims day event at the national ATF building in Washington D.C. He was clearly very caring towards the victims and the ATF officers who were involved in the cases that were highlighted at the gathering. Congratulations to Todd Jones. I wish him well.


  1. japete writes: "The Senate has, at long last, confirmed the first ever Director of the ATF- Todd Jones, current Minnesota U.S. Attorney. "

    ATF has had several directors in its history. Mr. Jones is the first one confirmed since 2006. There is a list of previous ATF directors on the ATF's website.

    1. Sorry. Yes. Jones will be the first appointed director of the ATF since the position was changed to require Senate confirmation in 2006. This was done so the NRA could lobby against confirming a director which it has done since the change.

  2. At last, a confirmation for ATF Director.

    Why does the NRA oppose an ATF Director? Because the NRA and other gun lobbies are pro-criminal. They don't want any law that would in any way keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them, that's why, and I challenge any gun guy to prove me wrong.

  3. Mr. Jones did bring some baggage to the table. Among other things, he actually starred in a video that many interpreted to be a thinly veiled threat to potential whistle blowers of consequences for releasing information outside the chain of command.
    "Choices and consequences means simply that if you make poor choices, that if you don't abide by the rules, that if you don't respect the chain of command, if you don't find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences, because we cannot tolerate -- we cannot tolerate -- an undisciplined organization," Jones said in the video.

    The ATF and the Attorney General has contributed to the perceived appearance of not being forthcoming to Congressional investigations and using delaying tactics. This is a bad thing, no matter what side of the aisle is in charge.

    1. Representatives Grassley and Issa have been on a tear to take down the ATF for a long time now. You forgot about this part of the article: " "I didn't see (the video) as threatening, especially when taken into context with the previous videos that were put out," said Peter Forcelli, who helped blow the whistle on Fast and Furious from his time in Phoenix. He said he was "surprised" that ATF colleagues would raise concerns about the video, and he told Issa's and Grassley's offices as much.
      In an interview with Fox News, Forcelli said ATF has had "problems" with whistle-blower cases in the past, and he believes Jones' "Choices and Consequences" video was trying to "dissuade people from putting stuff on message boards and on the blogs."
      "Unfortunately some of the things that have been discovered at ATF haven't been reported to the chain of command," Forcelli said. "They've wound up on the Internet. It's demoralizing to the agency, and it's not good government. We need to be aware of problems in the agency from within the agency."
      Both Forcelli and Larry Alt, another initial whistle-blower over Fast and Furious, praised the current leadership at ATF. Forcelli said Jones, Deputy Director Thomas Branden and other top officials are the right ones to "bring our agency back into being effective and efficient," and Alt said, "We're headed in the right direction.""

      These are your opinions, not based on facts, Mark.

  4. Baldr,

    I wouldn't say that the NRA is specifically interested in arming criminals. I do challenge you on that. My take regarding that organization's top brass is that they benefit financially & politically from lax gun laws, as we can both attest, and the negative public safety consequences are not important to them. Greed rules their minds.

    The NRA's grass roots members are clearly opposed to arming criminals but tend to believe what stuff they're told regarding gun laws being ineffective and just a ploy to ban guns in general. Misinformation rules their minds.

    1. I have written about this before on my blog. I doubt that there is a direct desire to arm criminals by the NRA. But I do wonder if it benefits them to have loose gun laws that allow criminals to get guns. Because if criminals get guns, that makes the case for arming citizens and sending them to the gun stores to do so, more relevant. It's the fear and paranoia. If criminals are armed, then citizens must be armed. It's circular and specious reasoning.

  5. Japete,

    I posted the above comment during the noon hour then went back in the shop to work. As I'm working the very point you're making above struck me. In effect, more crime does lead to higher profits for the gun industry and, as a result, both kudos and cash from the industry flows to the NRA. You're correct.