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.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Why we need to expand background checks

Here is why we need to expand our gun background check system. A Texas man was convicted of selling guns without a license in the state of California. And there's more. From the article:
"It’s the gun show loophole. In the state of Texas. It was how Zeta drug lord Miguel Angel Trevino Morales got the assault rifle the Mexican authorities found when they arrested him.
Morales commits atrocities. The kidnapping of and then killing of 265 immigrants that refused to act as drug mules for the criminal organization.
Manuel Rodriguez, of Spring Branch, Texas was the man who provided the assault rifle.  When they searched his house they found 76 more guns, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, and cash.  15,000 dollars.
Rodriguez didn’t pay to support his children in California.  He owed the 260,000 dollars in back pay.
It was in California that he was convicted of selling weapons without a license.  He was sentenced to four years in prison.
In Texas, Rodriquez posed as a private seller at the gun shows.  It was a loophole he could use to sell the guns without first conducting a background check.
Those who bought the guns from him would then sell them to the Zetas.
There was no indication that Rodriquez knew the final destination of the guns.  But it didn’t matter.  He was a felon in possession of guns.  He was a felon illegally selling guns.
That’s the gun show loophole in Texas.  It was used to arm the vicious Zeta drug cartel."
So how is it that we can't come to terms with the idea that providing guns to people who shouldn't have them through private sellers is a bad idea? This is proof positive that an expansion of our gun background check system would stop some of the daily carnage in our own country and even other countries. Why do the gun rights extremists fight so hard against a simple law that would merely keep people like Rodriquez from buying and selling weapons? What is this really all about?

Most people actually support this common sense measure, as we know and as I write about in almost every post on this blog. I don't think I need to provide, yet again, all of the polling showing strong support for expanded background checks, even amongst gun owners, NRA members and Republicans. So how did we get to the point of such strong resistance to doing what's in the best interest of public safety and strong, healthy communities? There is a tendency to over analyze what's going on in American politics. We have 24/7 news so the media has to have something to talk about. There is little true analysis of the problems and solutions to solve some of our country's most pressing problems. Facts don't seem to matter any more either. And there are no perfect answers. But as a country shouldn't we try to work together to solve the problems before us?

When articles and actual incidents like the top article in this post point to how our system is broken and point to a relatively simple solution that will largely leave law abiding gun owners the ability to buy almost any gun they want, shouldn't we act? The strong resistance from the corporate gun lobby and gun rights extremists to this simple expanded system of background checks is based on innuendo and false premises. Somewhere, at some point in time, the corporate gun lobby decided that their mission was to hate "gun control" and support the gun industry. In fact, in 1977 the whole focus of the National Rifle Association changed from an organization to support hunters and provide gun safety classes to that of a political powerhouse. Knowing this history is important for those of us working to prevent gun deaths and injuries. From the article:
The Old Guard was caught by surprise. The NRA officers sat up front, on a dais, observing their demise. The organization, about a century old already, was thoroughly mainstream and bipartisan, focusing on hunting, conservation and marksmanship. It taught Boy Scouts how to shoot safely. But the world had changed, and everything was more political now. The rebels saw the NRA leaders as elites who lacked the heart and conviction to fight against gun-control legislation.
And these leaders were about to cut and run: They had plans to relocate the headquarters from Washington to Colorado.
“Before Cincinnati, you had a bunch of people who wanted to turn the NRA into a sports publishing organization and get rid of guns,” recalls one of the rebels, John D. Aquilino, speaking by phone from the border city of Brownsville, Tex.
What unfolded that hot night in Cincinnati forever reoriented the NRA. And this was an event with broader national reverberations. The NRA didn’t get swept up in the culture wars of the past century so much as it helped invent them — and kept inflaming them. In the process, the NRA overcame tremendous internal tumult and existential crises, developed an astonishing grass-roots operation and became closely aligned with the Republican Party.
Today it is arguably the most powerful lobbying organization in the nation’s capital and certainly one of the most feared. There is no single secret to its success, but what liberals loathe about the NRA is a key part of its power. These are the people who say no.
They are absolutist in their interpretation of the Second Amendment. The NRA learned that controversy isn’t a problem but rather, in many cases, a solution, a motivator, a recruitment tool, an inspiration.
This important public safety conversation was changed purposely for political reasons and not necessarily based on principals or facts. The NRA lobbyists have continued the strident rhetoric to make sure the gun industry continues to make huge profits and to prop themselves up as an organization. This is not OK.

Back to my original premise-that expanding our background check system will not lead to the hyperbolic results stated by gun rights extremists. They seem to be getting their information from people like Wayne LaPierre who claims that the "guys with the guns make the rules." That's pretty powerful stuff. As long as people believe that their guns give them ultimate power, we are in for a big and ugly fight. For losing power is threatening to a lot of folks. Thus, the uncompromising and forceful arguments against doing anything to stop the shootings. The truth of the matter is that there will be no gun confiscation if the Brady background check system, already in place now since 1994, is expanded to private sellers. There has not been wide spread confiscation as a result of buying a gun at a Federally Licensed Dealer where background checks are required. There has not been confiscation of guns in the states that have passed expanded background checks. These are red herrings designed to kill any chance of moving forward with measures to keep us safer.

I don't believe that the gun rights extremists really want innocent people to be shot. It can't be that. I don't think these folks are really unwilling to go through background checks themselves because they claim they are mostly all law abiding. I don't think they like the idea that felons, dangerously mentally ill people or domestic abusers can buy guns legally. Or at least I hope not. So forgive me for being puzzled by this resistance to common sense measures to keep our communities safer. If we can't act together as communities, who are we?

If individual rights always trump the common right to be safe, we wouldn't have any laws would we? Why do we pass laws that require seat belts and airbags in cars? Surely that violates an individual right to ride in a car any way you want. It is because of the common good that keeps us all safer and keeps our children and loved ones from being killed in accidents. Why speed limit laws? What if we allowed people to drive any way they wanted without constraints? So no traffic lights, no stop signs, no one way streets, no driver's licenses, no car registration or insurance? What about requiring background checks on anyone who works with our children? Good idea? What about requiring background checks on people who work with other people's money? Good idea? What about mandatory education laws that make sure all of our children attend school or are home schooled while following some state regulations? What about requiring our teachers, doctors and other professionals to upgrade their skills so we know they can address our health and educational needs? What about making sure our roads and bridges are safe? What about making sure our children's toys are safe? What about making sure that new buildings are inspected for building or fire code violations? What about licensing building contractors, plumbers and electricians? What about requiring smokers to go outside of public buildings if they want to light up? Why pass those laws? Don't those people have a right to smoke if they want to?

We need a serious discussion about what a society requires in order to be safe and meet the basic needs of those who live in our communities. Requiring background checks on all gun sales is just one of the many measures we can take to work for the common good of our citizens. If we all care about that, we should be able to have a reasoned and reasonable discussion about how to accomplish it. But when we find ourselves in the ugly and uncompromising political quagmire we now have, we have gotten ourselves off track. It's time for that to change. The only way to make change is to demand it in the name of what benefits the greater good. Especially since we know that too many of our citizens are shot and killed or injured every day in America. It's a problem begging for a solution.

Expanded background checks would obviously be part of that benefit. For if we can stop people like Rodriguez (above) from illegally buying and selling guns that end up contributing to the deaths of innocent Mexican citizens and maybe even Americans, isn't that a good thing? If we can stop young men intent on killing fellow students at Columbine High School from getting a gun through a friend who went to a private seller at a Colorado gun show, isn't that a good thing? If we can stop a young dangerously mentally ill man named Seung-Hui Cho from buying a gun because his name is forwarded to the data base of prohibited gun purchasers, isn't that a good thing? If we have stronger laws about who can have a permit to carry a gun so that a young man named Jared Loughner wasn't able to get the gun or a permit to carry it that he used to kill 6 people and seriously injure U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, isn't that a good thing? If we can stop a domestic abuser from buying a gun without the background check that could have stopped the sale as in the case of Rochelle Inselman in Minnesota, isn't that a good thing?

I'm just saying......


  1. Todays problems over the gun issue goes deeper than political leaning, party affiliation, or even the NRA. People just don't trust our government anymore. I'm a strong advocate of background checks, but I also voted to prevent my home state (Arizona) from maintaining records created when you check your weapon in at a government building. I believe it's within our governments right to maintain a list of prohibited possessors, but look at what California is trying to pass with SB 755; if you are convicted of being drunk in public then you can't have a gun for 10 years. This will place you on the prohibited possessor list, for being drunk in public?? This is the type of mentality that makes people baulk at supporting background checks

    1. I'm happy to hear you are in favor of background checks on all gun sales. As to the rest, I couldn't disagree more.

  2. I was hoping for a little more dialogue. You disagree that more people don't trust our government these days, and/or do you disagree that there are bills being presented that go beyond the bounds of simply insuring mentally unstable people don't have access to guns? I would love to see honest debates on how we can reduce all violent crimes in this country, but unfortunately most people won't acknowledge simple facts. Are you aware that the FBI states 68 to 80% of gun violence is gang related? As a retired LEO, I know gang members don't care about existing or future laws, so legislation is a poor venue to address violent crimes. But since you simply "couldn't disagree more", I really don't know how knowledgeable or "commongunsensible" you really are.

  3. Both Denube, in answer to your questions. You will have to provide me with a link to your claim about the FBI and gangs. Here is what I know and have found which does not say what you said. http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/gun-violence/ " but by 1993, nearly all gang-related homicides involved guns (95 percent), whereas the percentage of gun homicides related to arguments remained relatively constant. The percentage of gang-related homicides caused by guns fell slightly to 92 percent in 2008, but the percentage of homicides caused by firearms during the commission of a felony rose from about 60 percent to about 74 percent from 1980 to 2005.[5]" This does not say that most gun violence is due to gangs.

    This is an article about the FBI's assessment of violence in general and gangs- http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/gangs " gangs are responsible for an average of 48 percent of violent crime in most jurisdictions, and up to 90 percent in others." It is not specific to gun violence.

    This study- http://www.vpc.org/studies/CAgang.pdf- relates only to gangs and violence and gun violence in California. It is pretty extensive but didn't come up with anything like the percentage you claimed. From this study, it's difficult to assess the information you are seeking. Maybe you can find a more definitive source with the actual numbers you asserted in your comment.

    I am concerned on this blog about gun violence and gun deaths and injuries. Though other methods of violence and death are of concern to me, I have chosen here to write about guns, gun violence, the problems and the potential solutions.

  4. My information was based on the National Violent Death Reporting System from the CDC. This information is compiled using FBI data. I use this format because a lot of statistics used for and against gun control is very selective. This way I can eliminate nonrelated issues like suicides by firearms (the 10th leading cause of death in the US)and stay strictly on crimes against the innocent. But again, the root of the problem is a high lack of trust in what the gun control advocates real agenda is. I know some will take umbrage with my dismissing suicides by firearms, but people attempting suicide will do so even without access to a firearm. Japan is a perfect example.

    1. You did not provide me with a link to your information. That is the only way I can check out your information. Until then, I can't take your word for it. Homicide by gun in America is the most common form of homicide. Suicide by gun takes more lives than homicides. Sure, people find other ways. But guns are the most effective. In Japan, I am assuming they are working on ways to stop the high suicide rate. Just as I am working on ways to stop the high rate of homicide and suicide by gun in the U.S. Most gun homicides are committed by people who know each other and many by law abiding gun owners, such as yesterday's mass shooting. That is a very big concern and what causes those of us in the gun violence prevention area to keep the pressure up to change the culture and the laws that are leading to way too many senseless gun deaths.

  5. Denube & Japete,

    Clearly gang violence is a big catalyst for gun and other forms of violence. Even if that was not the case, I think it's still pretty obvious that we need to take guns out of the hands of prohibited persons.

    Danube, nationally you and your fellow LEOs have consistently removed guns from criminal/crazy person/terrorist hands to the tune of about 500,000 guns/year, and done so for quite a few years. If it wasn't for the easy re-supply of guns due to our weak, loop-holed gun laws the bulk of the criminal gun arsenal would be in LE gun storage rooms by now. Or destroyed or re-sold to the general public, or whatever. But guns certainly wouldn't be on the streets in the vast numbers that they are found to be.

    The trouble is the illicit re-supply cancels the confiscation effort. Thus LE is merely treading water in it's attempt to disarm the bad guys.

    What's needed is a tightly written, tightly enforced & properly funded cocktail of federal laws: 1) a (near) universal background check law, b) mandated safe firearms storage, c) stiff penalties for gun traffickers & straw purchasers and d) some form of lost & stolen gun reporting.

    With care and creativity, all of the above laws could be written to protect private gun ownership, as well as home self-defense. You just have to get the folks involved in crafting them to cooperate.

    But as you so correctly allude to, folks these days don't do "cooperate".

  6. Yes, Japan is working on a way to stop suicides..they are now charging a clean-up fine against the survivors of those that jump in front of trains. This is their most common form of suicide over there. Gun violence is actually on the decline, even though gun sales have been high than ever. This does not preclude fighting against gun violence, but the correlation between the number of guns available vs gun violence is looking pretty weak. Again, I resoundingly support background checks, but the vast distrust in our government and anti-gun organizations by gun enthusiasts has created a barrier that prevents serious discussions in solving gun violence in our society. We can spout statistics all day, and just as I've said on other blogs I don't provide links; do your own research the best way you know how. People that "dabble" in gun control need to dig through the BS and learn the truth on their own, like bad people kill innocent people, criminals don't follow laws, prohibited possessors will still carry guns. Btw Brent, I have found that the majority of firearms in the hands of criminals have been stolen. This includes break-ins at gun shops as wall as residences. Criminal WILL find a way to obtain guns and in Arizona they face 3 to 5 years in prison on a class 4 felony. That just does not stop them!

    1. Again, "Denube" I am not "dabbling" and I suggest that you stop using that term to describe what I am doing. There is actually a correlation between the number of guns, loose gun laws and gun deaths. It is not a positive thing for the gun rights folks, by the way. And since you don't seem to want to deal with facts or links, I won;t provide them but have done so many times on this blog. Since you are new to the blog, you have missed all of that apparently. I believe that the facts speak for themselves. Actually gun deaths have remained the same now for quite a few years, down from the mid 90s. It has consistently been around 30,000 a year due to homicides, suicides and accidents. That comes down to about 32 homicides a day and about 80 total a day. And to your point, we should be doing everything possible to keep guns away from criminals. The fact that so many of them try to buy guns from licensed dealers and are turned down does tell us that they try to get guns that way. When they don't they go to unlicensed sellers where they don't need background checks. Or they steal and many gun owners don't lock their guns away unloaded. Or there is the illegal market, as you know. Where do those guns come from? The trafficking? From others who have stolen or bought from private sellers. They don't fall from trees. All guns start out as legal purchases by someone. And legal includes private sales without background checks because they are not illegal in most states as you know. If we had your point of view, we would have no speed limits either because some people won't follow the rules.

  7. I stay in the realm of firearm homicides. Accidents don't factor in because there are so many other ways that people die from accidents that outranks firearms that we would wind up banning everything! As far as suicides go, that is an individual choice and I'm not wasting my time on those that choose to leave this world that way. So the increase in available firearms vs the decrease in firearm homicides is astounding! From 2008 to 2010 over 15,500,000 guns were manufactured and sold in the US (ok, here you go:‘Firearms Manufactured (1986-2010).’ Firearms Commerce in the United States - Annual Statistical Update 2012.Washington DC:US Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF))I can't believe I did that!! This is the largest count since 1994. But look at the homicide rate! Numbers in target age groups down since 1965. Also as we have seen in most major cities across the US, increased gun restrictions and higher than normal homicides by firearms go hand-in-hand (omg I'm going to do this again....CDC MMWR Aug 2nd 2013). So again, we can spout statistics all we want, but you must agree that the major obstacle at hand right now in developing a plan to reduce gun violence is the (justifiable) fear of anti-gun agendas up to and including firearm bans. Until we get together to discuss this issue, there will be all kinds of unreasonable actions from both sides and no real progress. I'll drop the "dabble" if you drop the "assault weapons" label. Deal?

    1. Not talking again,about banning anything. I contribute to this blog- http://kidshootings.blogspot.com/
      Tell the parents of those children that their kids could have died another way. That is cynical and I don't accept it. Way too many children die from accidental gun deaths. They die from drownings and all kinds of other things as well. It happens that I am working to prevent the gun deaths. People are working to prevent drownings as well as deaths by car accident and poisoning. In some states, gun deaths have surpassed auto accidents as causes of death As I said, the gun homicide rate has not changed now for quite a few years in spite of a lot of things. I don't believe for one minute that requiring background checks on all gun sales is unreasonable. There is no proof that it would be. And, since this is my blog, I don't make deals with commenters. I will continue to use the term assault rifle. It is the term in common use for a good reason. They are not hunting guns no matter what you claim. As I said, I know a lot of people and not one hunts with an AR-15 or AK-47 or whatever the heck you hunt with. Without them there are many other kinds of guns available made for hunting purposes. I wonder what the heck people did before the gun lobby changed the definition of these weapons to hunting rifles? They must have had a terrible time with those varmints. Deer are not hunted with assault rilfles. If you can't get your deer with 2 shots you might as well hang it up and go home.