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.
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Friday, August 16, 2013

The risks of guns in public

If you have been reading this blog, you know that I have been writing about how often "law abiding" gun owners and gun permit holders have been shooting other people or causing trouble in our communities. Owning a gun comes with risks. I wrote about this in my latest 2 blog posts. In fact, if you decide to own a gun for self protection, you need to realize that gun owners are more at risk than non gun owners in an assault:
"In a first-of its-kind study, epidemiologists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that, on average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. The study estimated that people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun."
That's funny. This is just the opposite of what a lot of gun owners have been led to believe by the corporate gun lobby. Of course, the gun industry is interested in a lot of people buying guns to keep their profits up. I guess the facts don't matter. But I digress. Police officers lives are particularly at risk from both legal and illegal gun owners. They understand that their job is made more dangerous by both law abiding gun owners in domestic disputes, confrontations, etc. and illegal gun owners.

Over the last several years, there have been confrontations and even ambushes involving gun owners and officers. No wonder officers are suspicious of and even frightened of folks with guns in public places. They have no idea if the guy with the gun is a good guy with a gun or a bad guy with a gun. When law abiding permit holders start exercising their second amendment rights by openly carrying guns in public to prove a point, it won't be long before someone who isn't legal will do the same. If a law abiding gun owner can carry openly in public, why shouldn't a felon or domestic abuser do the same? Who will know the difference? Will there be shoot-outs in our streets over one person carrying a gun and another not knowing what that person is up to? People will have to carry guns to protect themselves from other law abiding gun owners carrying guns. Crazy. To some extent this is already happening in America.

In my home state, a man climbed a tree with his gun after calling officers to his home. What was he up to? Wanting to kill officers on purpose? Was he suicidal and wanted to die by "suicide by cop"? This is another tragic situation in which an officer was wounded by a crazed man with a gun who then was shot by the officers. Was this an ambush? Does anyone remember Richard Poplawski of Pittsburg "law abiding gun permit holder? I do. Does anyone remember the Tacoma area coffee shop shooting of 4 police officers? I do. I'm just wondering who the "good guys with the guns" were in these cases? Just asking.....You can check out police officer shootings here. So far this year, 20 cops have been killed by firearms.

Senseless.

Tragic.

I wrote recently about "good guys with guns" making political points by showing up at Starbucks stores with openly carried guns. They must think this is going to make their cause more popular. It hasn't. It just makes them look stupid and potentially dangerous. The public does understand the carnage due to guns in communities all over our country. They are aware of public shootings. They understand that guns do not make us safer and indeed, make us less safe. This is the majority view and has been for many years. Most people believe that the second amendment can and does co-exist with common sense gun laws. But what is common sense? Is provoking law enforcement by purposely carrying guns in public common sense? Is intimidating citizens at coffee shops and in our streets common sense?

This Michigan gun owner took videos of his own confrontations with police officers as he carried his shotgun around while walking his dog. First of all, it just can't be much fun going on a walk with a shotgun along. I like to have as little as possible attached to my body while walking. The purpose of a walk is to get exercise. Carrying other things along with you seems to defeat the whole purpose of a walk on a nice day. Why take a gun? What or who will you encounter on a walk? The neighbor kids? A couple out for some exercise? A gang? If you encounter a gang, perhaps you shouldn't be out for a nice walk in that particular neighborhood. Stay away.

Check out this video of the now dead gun owner Pratt having a confrontation with the father of the young woman he later shot. Who was he saying he loved in this video? Eerie:



But I digress. This Michigan gun owner turned out to be not so law abiding. You're law abiding until suddenly you aren't. This "good guy with a gun" shot his girlfriend and himself in June with that shotgun he was carrying around with him to exercise his rights. Do his rights also include shooting another human being just because he owns a gun and he can? More from a related article:
Holly Harrison was awake late Monday caring for her newborn daughter when she heard yelling coming from her neighbor’s house.
Minutes later, she said she became concerned when she heard what she said sounded like gunfire.
“In my mind, I went, ‘Was that a gunshot?’” said Harrison, 23, who lives in the 500 block of 10th Street just north of Plainwell.
Allegan County sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene about 12:20 a.m. and found Cassaundra Pell, 23, and Pell’s boyfriend, Robert Burnham-Pratt, 24, shot to death.
Pell is the daughter of Plainwell Public Safety Officer James Pell.
Deputies went to the house after a 911 call from someone who said they witnessed Pell and Pratt arguing and then heard a gunshot.
Investigators said it appears that Pratt killed Pell before turning the gun on himself.
Sgt. Todd Wagner said earlier Friday that deputies found a shotgun near Pell and Pratt in the house and that investigators believed the shotgun was the weapon used in the murder-suicide.
Well then, so much for Pratt's obnoxious and arrogant behavior. He is now dead and has taken someone with him.

Senseless.

Tragic.

We are better than this.

What we don't need is these gun rights extremists being in our faces with their guns. It is unseemly, rude, intimidating and obnoxious and unnecessary behavior. What we do need is for the gun culture to get a hold of what it has supported. As long as the far right and the gun advocates allow for this type of behavior by promoting it ( and yes, they do on Open Carry, NRA letters to members and their website and with their own NRA Board members) we will continue to see junk like this occurring in American communities. It is simply not OK. The gun rights guys on my blog claim to be upset by this behavior because it surely doesn't represent them ( I think it does represent some who are reading this blog who make rude and disgusting comments that I don't publish). If it doesn't, what are they going to do about it? Are they going to tell the NRA and other such gun rights groups to stop ramping up the fear and paranoia? Are they going to join with me and others like me who just want the killings to stop and ask for common sense gun legislation and more common sense amongst their own? Until they do we will continue with the carnage. Just take a look at the latest Gun Report from Joe Nocera of the New York Times. Just take a look at the Walmart shootings blog. Just take a look at the Ohh Shoot blog ( where the latest incident is a woman scrap booking in her apartment getting hit in the forehead by a bullet from a neighbor's assault rifle!) Seriously. People should be able to sit in their homes without fear of stray bullets. I'm just saying. They were both lucky wouldn't you say? Just take a look at the Kid Shootings blog. We can't keep up with the number of gun incidents. I'm not making this stuff up. You couldn't possibly.

Who is speaking for the victims? Who is speaking out for what's right? It's time for a change. Let's get to work.

UPDATE:

It is interesting that legislators may be bought and paid for by the corporate gun lobby but judges are not. That is why judges make common sense rulings concerning gun policy. The Oregon Supreme Court upheld the state of Oregon's ban on loaded guns in public places:
A city of Portland ordinance that prohibits carrying loaded guns in public places does not violate a person's right to bear arms, the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled
The decision in State and City of Portland v. Jonathan D. Christian, released Thursday, is believed to be the first time the state's highest court has weighed in on the ordinance. The justices' endorsement of the law's constitutionality comes as communities across the country continue a heated debate over government regulations of firearms.
The ruling, written by Justice Richard Baldwin for the unanimous court, carries implications for more than just Portland, said Harry Auerbach, Chief Deputy City Attorney for Portland. He said several local governments throughout Oregon have similar regulations.
"The ability of cities statewide to protect their citizens was an important consideration" for the court, he said, adding that the ruling bolsters efforts "to protect the safety of people on the streets of Portland by limiting the number of loaded firearms that are out there."
The city ordinance prohibiting the carrying of loaded firearms in public has existed for decades, although the Portland City Council amended it in December 2010 to add a mandatory jail term of 30 days for violating the ordinance. That amendment was part of a package of new gun laws passed under former Mayor Sam Adams.
The case challenging the ordinance stems from the September 2008 arrest of Jonathan D. Christian.
The opinion offers an outline of the incident: Christian had carried a bag across a street before placing it behind the counter of a convenience store. He then sat on a chair outside the store.
Officers approached soon after and asked if they could search him. He had with him an empty gun holster, a loaded magazine, two knives and pepper spray, the opinion states. After Christian told police about the bag in the store and granted permission to search it, officers located two loaded 9-mm semiautomatic handguns and additional loaded magazines.
Arrested and charged with violating state weapons laws and the city ordinance, he was convicted in Multnomah County Circuit Court. He challenged the Portland city ordinance before the Oregon Court of Appeals, arguing the law violated both the state and U.S. constitutions. But the appeals court affirmed his conviction in 2011.
In appealing that decision to the Supreme Court, Christian's lawyers contended that the right to bear arms for self-defense in the home implies a right to carry loaded guns in public places without restriction, according to the opinion's summary.
But Justice Baldwin wrote that the ordinance is not a total ban on carrying loaded firearms. Rather, it regulates "the manner of possession and use of firearms in public places." In addition, there are 14 exceptions to the law, which allow those with concealed weapons permits, police officers and several other groups of people to carry a loaded firearm in public places.  
"The ordinance reflects a legislative determination," the justice wrote, "that the risk of death or serious injury to members of the public moving about in public places is increased by the threat posed by individuals who recklessly fail to unload their firearms."
Justices understand that a lot of loaded guns in public is a recipe for trouble. It does look like law abiding concealed weapons permit holders can still carry. Based on the incidents about which I have been writing, that could also be dangerous.

UPDATE #2:

So there was a shooting at a Walmart in Wisconsin. An employee with a concealed carry permit shot another employee:
The woman suspected of shooting a co-worker on Wednesday at Walmart had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, Neenah police said today.
The shooting happened shortly before 11:15 a.m. Wednesday in the liquor section of Walmart at 1155 W. Winneconne Ave. The victim, Sharon Goffard, 56, of Neenah, was shot at close range in the abdomen and remains in critical condition at Theda Clark Medical Center.
The suspected shooter, Justine Boyd, 56, of Greenville, had a concealed carry permit at the time of her arrest. Police recovered a handgun at the scene owned by Boyd or her husband. Despite the permit, Walmart policy prohibits employees from carrying weapons while on duty, a statement from Neenah police said.
“Walmart does not prohibit citizens from carrying legally possessed firearms into the Neenah store,” the statement said. “They do, however, have an internal policy that prohibits their employees from going armed while working in the store.”
So Walmart allows citizens to carry guns into their stores but not employees. I think they should re-consider their policies. As long as customers are allowed, why shouldn't employees think they, too, can carry? Just check out the Walmart shootings blog above for why Walmart is wrong to allow loaded guns in and around their stores.

UPDATE #3:

And this, dear readers, is one of the stupidest things I have seen in quite a while. Why in the world does this guy think he should take a video of himself prancing around with an assault rifle on his shoulder? Is this the kind of communities we want? NO. This is what we see in countries at war where soldiers are patrolling the streets. This is not what we should be seeing in America. Check out "Starbucks gun appreciation day:



Raise your hand if you think this is cool and makes common sense. We are better than this.

8 comments:

  1. In this video from Pratt, you see someone loading an automatic pistol at 10 seconds into the clip:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfiTvUiU0iw&feature=c4-overview&list=UUpsmrLVZFW8K4LhFM_HKAxA

    He is hardly a law abiding if he is going into situations where he will provoke the police into a conflict.

    Additionally, these "open carry activists" do so with recording equipment in the hope that the police will "overreact". Is that really the type of behaviour that people want to encourage let alone condone?

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  2. Good news. Just now I learned that the Oregon Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of a Portland ban on loaded guns in public places without a permit.

    Of course, the Supreme Court already ruled in the McDonald Case that the Second Amendment does not extend to carrying guns in public places, concealed or otherwise, but that won't stop the gun lobby from continuing to argue otherwise and wasting taxpayer money on it.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/08/oregon_supreme_court_finds_por.html

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    Replies
    1. Yes. I updated my post to include an article about the Supreme Court decision.

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  3. It will be interesting to see if any cases about the right to carry in public. It has gotten as far as the 7th circuit Court of Appeals. The loss there resulted in Illinois being forced to implement a concealed carry permit system. I have wondered if the reason Madigan didn't appeal to SCOTUS was because if it went there, and lost again it would have much broader ramifications than on just the one state.
    Though it does supply a precedent.

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  4. "Just check out the Walmart shootings blog above for why Walmart is wrong to allow loaded guns in and around their stores."

    Japete, I took your suggestion and went to the Wal-Mart Blog. So far there have been 44 shootings this year. The author of the blog seems to suggest that the reason for so many shootings might be the company's pro-gun stance, especially in allowing patrons who are legally carrying. The first thing I noticed was that fully 25% of the listed shootings were police officers shooting someone, in several instances shooting unarmed shoplifters.I don't think you can count those against Walmart, can we? For example, a State Trooper shoots and kills an armed carjacker and its Walmarts fault?
    And then three of the listed shootings are with BB or pellet guns which aren't really firearms. The listing for the previous year is similar. And please keep in mind that as of 2011 Walmart has just over 8,900 locations. I in no way mean to diminish the seriousness of each crime committed, but its hard to realistically put the blame on the company.

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    1. Other stores have not seen shootings like those that occur at Walmart stores. Walmart is one of the country's largest seller of guns. Coincidence? Does Walmart want to make sure their armed customers can come in and buy their guns? Profits are down. Guns are a big seller and expensive items. Walmart needs their gun toting customers. BB or pellet guns have been known to cause some serious injuries and even deaths. The author of the blog started noticing that shooting incidents at Walmart stores were more frequent than other stores, most likely because it has stores all over the country. There should be NO shootings in or near Walmart stores. Many of them have been accidental discharges by law abiding gun owners. Some are robberies in the parking lots. If some are police shooting someone, why are they shooting someone? Something went wrong in or around a Walmart store. I believe Walmart has a problem. If a national "big box" store has such a problem, one would think they would re-consider their policy. I guess you missed that point, Mark. It is a problem. If Walmart stores profits become more of a serious problem, who knows what will happen next?

      http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2013/08/wal-mart_warns_of_lower_profit.html

      You might find this interesting as well- http://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-americas-largest-gun-seller-hires-bloombergs-anti-gun-ad-agency-2013-5

      Walmart has hired the firm used by Mayors Against Illegal Guns to boost its' profits. Strange and cynical?

      And this one about Walmart's gun sales after shootings and because of the much needed profits- http://business.time.com/2013/01/11/walmarts-on-again-off-again-relationship-with-guns/

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    2. So you conflate unarmed shoplifters being shot by cops with Walmart selling bullets and ammunition. You conflate a truck hijacking with Walmart's inventory and sales policies.
      Next you will say that banks are robbed because people use bank debit cards to purchase weapons.
      Then you will say that Walmart does not have a policy of putting its stores where they are easily accessible to the poor of an area. Then you will state that DOJ statistics in no way reflect the fact that lower income areas have higher crime (both violent and otherwise) rates.
      The point, for those of you that actually thought the post above mine made sense, is that Walmart puts its stores in low income areas to ensure lots of foot traffic. Lots of foot traffic involves lots of poor people. Statistics indicate that lots of poor people either commit crimes or are (of necessity or otherwise) associated with criminals. This would lead a logical person to believe that Walmart's location alone would lead to higher crime rates. This can be proven by the fact that convenience stores and even music stores in low income areas put steel bars on their windows and doors due to high crime levels. Drive through a lower income location in any city and you will see the steel bars and shutters and other security measures. This is because of the area. Walmart's sales of firearms has nothing to do with the crime rate in Walmart. That is a complete crock of B.S.
      By your logic Cabela's would be a hive of shootings. Bass Pro Shops would have bullet holes in every window and all through the ceiling.
      Try again.

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    3. Your logic is flawed. The Walmarts in my area are NOT in low income areas at all. In fact, they are located close to other shopping venues as I believe they are in many other places. People can get there by bus, I suppose, but really don't walk to the stores in my area. I am not sure where you get that one. Is it based on any facts? In fact, most shootings involved people who know each other and many are not in low income neighborhoods. There may be more crime in those neighborhoods but shootings don't necessarily go with low income. From one of the articles I included in a previous reply: " But given its broad, national reach, Walmart is likely the single biggest firearms seller in the U.S. And lately business has been good: even before reports that Walmart had sold out of semiautomatic rifles following Sandy Hook, chief merchandising officer Duncan MacNaughton said in October that revenue from gun sales increased 76% in the first half of the most recent fiscal year, while ammunition sales increased 30%."

      Apparently you missed that part. Walmart likely sells even more guns than Cabelas and other big box stores.

      So it sounds like you are looking down your nose at Walmart customers compared to those at Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops who would never shoot anyone outside of a store. It is just the low lifes who are in or around Walmart stores who would do something like that.

      Of course, you have missed the point of my post.

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