I thought I had permanently lost this post when I attempted to update it today. Luckily I was able to find it in my e-mail trash. So here it is, again, looking slightly different but with the same content. The comments that were published appear on the post where I mentioned that I had accidentally deleted this post. Thanks for your patience. I'm happy that I was able to retrieve this one.
I guess I struck a nerve with my most recent post. The "gun guys" who read my blog didn't like the idea that I wrote about "law abiding" gun permit holders and gun owners shooting people in public places or anywhere else for that matter. I said we needed to talk, meaning, of course, the American public and our politicians. But the "gun guys" missed my point, as is often the case. I am always amazed that these folks pick out several of the smaller details about which to quibble but ignore the main point- the victims of the shootings. Since my sister was murdered I know what that means. This blog is intended to show that there are too many senseless shootings. And because there are too many senseless shootings, we must do something to change that. By something I mean we need to pass some laws to prevent and reduce some of the senseless shootings. By some laws I mean, at the least, we must pass a universal background check law so that every gun sale requires a background check. This will save lives. We know how many gun sales have been denied to felons, domestic abusers, dangerously mentally ill people, drug abusers and others who can't legally buy guns from licensed dealers. So that being the case, if all gun sales require background checks, these folks will have to go somewhere else for their guns. That somewhere else would be the illegal market where guns are trafficked. If we pass stronger laws to stop gun trafficking we can stop some of the gun sales that happen in this manner.
If these folks can't get their guns this way, maybe they will steal them from individuals who have lots of guns in their homes. If we pass laws requiring people to report lost and stolen guns, people might just get serious about making sure their guns can't be stolen. How would that happen? At the least, people should be encouraged or maybe even required to safely store their guns in gun safes where thieves, children, and others in the home can't get to the guns in the first place. Perhaps we could also prevent gun suicides, which account for more total gun deaths than gun homicides in the U.S. If we promote programs for parents, like the ASK program, so parents will feel more empowered to ask if there are guns where their children play, we could prevent some of the many accidental shootings by kids when they find loaded guns laying around in homes. We could prevent some of the many gun deaths of children in the U.S. Perhaps we could do more research into things like smart guns or other such technologies. I mean, if we can figure out how to send people to the moon, we can figure this out as well.
And speaking of research, President Obama signed executive orders after Sandy Hook for the CDC and other federally funded organizations to do more research into the cause and effects of gun violence. If we have some actual facts about gun violence in America, it will likely lead to demands to do something about it. That is a threat to the corporate gun lobby and its' minions because doing something about gun violence may lead to fewer people buying guns instead of more. If we follow the money we will see how the corporate gun lobby is connected to the gun industry. And protecting profits over lives may not sit well with the majority of Americans.
But I digressed there for a second. If "law abiding" gun owners were more careful in general with their guns, we could prevent some of the many accidental shootings in America. There are too many of these. Why? The American gun culture and the corporate gun lobby encourage everyone to own guns for self defense in the home and on our streets and public places. They have promoted the carrying of guns by even some who shouldn't be able to own and to carry into more public places. This has resulted in the many shootings and accidental discharges by "law abiding" gun permit holders that I write about every day. Since most shootings are committed by people who know each other, as it turns out, guns for self defense at home and in public are actually more risky for gun owners than if they didn't have a gun. The more guns there are in circulation ( about 300 million) the more inevitable it is that there will be more shootings. American has more guns per 100,000 than any other civilized country not at war as well as more mass shootings. These are the actual facts that should matter.
And when the corporate gun lobby pushed for self defense laws to expand to stand your ground laws so people could shoot others they claim they fear or claim are a threat, more people shoot people and get away with murder, or at least they try it. Some, like George Zimmerman, get away with it. And with these laws have come an increase in white gun permit holders shooting black Americans and not being charged with the shooting. If you don't believe me, you can check out this new piece showing the graphics of what I wrote about. (Thanks totopcriminaljusticedegrees.com for putting this together in a form that makes sense to people).
So when we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington this past week, black Americans had a right to be concerned that some things have not changed since Martin Luther King gave his "I Have A Dream" speech. Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence was at last Saturday's celebration of the march to give a speech asking people to raise their voices against violence and ask Congress to stand for the victims. For that is what this is all about.
So when the "gun guys" on my blog want me to come to their sites to have a "discussion" while calling me names and demeaning me on their sites, it's really not too possible to have a "discussion" with them. And what they have failed to understand is that what I, and others like me want, is for Congress and our legislators to have the discussions Americans deserve in order to pass common sense gun laws. My purpose for writing this blog in the first place was to try to engage others who agree and/or disagree with me about the issue of gun violence. It became perfectly clear to me early on when I got threatening, insulting, ugly and irrelevant comments from the "gun guys", that this discussion was not going to happen in any meaningful or useful way. How can a discussion be meaningful and lead to anything useful when the "gun guys" are attacking victims and even making ugly and rude sexual remarks about my sister who was shot to death? Many of these were anonymous commenters but some gave their names. Needless to say, they were asked to leave my blog. Thus, no more anonymous comments. Their ugly comments discourage reasonable people from commenting. This is typical on websites, articles in the media and blogs. But that wasn't enough. The "gun guys" get upset when I and others like me don't publish their comments on our blogs and Facebook pages. Why? They want to take over our blogs and Facebook pages with their ugly and insulting comments and turn our own blogs into theirs. And they intend to intimidate us. It's not working, by the way.
Whenever the issue of trying to save lives by asking for reasonable gun laws comes up, the "gun guys" go on the attack as if their own lives depended on it. Their fear and paranoia, hyped up by themselves on their own blogs and websites with help from the corporate gun lobby, is unreasonable and doesn't make sense. But I guess the facts and what makes sense aren't important to these folks. I have yet to hear any good reasons why universal background checks should not be required in America. I have yet to hear a good reason why people need to carry loaded guns in public. The facts don't support the hyperbole. When the "gun guys" on my blog tell me that gun permit holders commit fewer crimes than the general public, what does it matter? Gun permit holders were not supposed to be committing crimes. That was what they told us during the debates about passing laws to allow more people to carry in public. And then they show up at legislative hearings, at events held by gun violence prevention groups, etc. with their loaded guns and say we shouldn't be intimidated. If we feel intimidated, we feel intimidated. Having the "guys with the guns" tell us we should stop "wetting our pants", as one Minnesota legislator recently said about people being intimidated by guys with loaded guns is not only insensitive, it's bullying. People who have lost a loved one to a bullet just don't feel comfortable surrounded by "guys with guns". Why would they not feel intimidated?
But I digress again. People who carry lethal weapons around in public shouldn't be charged with domestic assault, assault, evading police in a chase ( Andrew Engledinger who shot up the Accent Signage company in Minneapolis), driving drunk, etc. But every year gun permit holders commit crimes (see Minnesota BCA report for 2011). These folks have not made us or themselves safer and shouldn't have been given a permit to carry a loaded gun in public. Self defense uses of firearms by permit holders are rare, as it turns out (MN. report). So what was all the fuss about then of the NEED for carrying a loaded gun around in pubic? Just that. A lot of fuss and getting into a twit about guns for self defense, mostly for nothing. Before extending the privilege to carry a gun in public was granted to more Americans ( and by the way, it's only about 2-4% of Americans who have permits to carry) we should have listened to what common sense tells us. More guns do not and have not made us safer.
There are too many senseless shootings. There are too many victims. The bottom line is that we can do something about this but we don't. Why? Because the "gun guys" have made sure to cow Congress and state legislatures with their deceptive and specious claims that their rights will be taken from them if we do anything at all. That is why having a discussion doesn't work out well. The main complaint from my "gun guy" readers is that requiring background checks will only affect law abiding purchasers and not criminals. Where is their proof of this? If my readers can't pass a background check, we will have to wonder why. If they can, there should be no reason not to require one for them, their friends or anyone else. The right thing to do is to pass a universal background check which even 75% of NRA members agree to. Our Congress members and legislators should be acting on what they know is right and what 90% of Americans want them to do. That means that the "gun guys" complaining on my blog, websites, Facebook pages and articles represent a very small subset of Americans.
Should we base public policy on these irrational and baseless fears? The fact is that gun laws matter. We have a public health and safety problem that we are doing nothing about. This is a travesty. So relax "gun guys". No one is coming for your guns or your rights. All we want is to stop the shootings. If you can't get on board with something as simple and reasonable as that, there really is no discussion to be had. It will just have to happen without you. Enough is enough. It's time to deal with the facts, many of which I have provided on this post. If the "gun guys" who comment on my blog want a discussion, it will have to be based on facts. Lives depend on it. It's time for a change so let's get to work to make it happen. We are better than this.
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.