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.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Workplace shootings

On this Labor Day, as with all Labor Days,  laborers and politicians get together for picnics and other celebrations to focus on the rights and achievements of the labor movement in America. Sadly, the labor movement is not what it was when this holiday was first celebrated because of the decrease in labor unions. There is an intention on the part of conservatives to rid the country of labor unions and all they represent. When my Dad was working for what was then Northwestern Bell telephone company he was active in his union. Unions provide workers much needed protections from the whims of companies and/or employers to suppress their salaries or their working conditions. Books and movies have been written and made about unions and conditions for workers. I read Class Action about the treatment of women in the iron ore mines of the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. The movie North Country is based on this book. Another good read is Triangle about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City that killed 146 women. But I digress.

Some people, of course, work on Labor Day since many restaurants, tourist destinations, retail establishments, etc. are open for business and taking advantage of this last summer holiday before school starts to generate profits and allow people who have the day off to take care of business. Personally, we are enjoying the last summer holiday with our family at our cabin. Some cousins came from out of town for a visit to our cabin. Other family came from close by to hang out and some friends came to visit my own kids who they hadn't seen in a while. We love that our cabin is a place where our family can feel comfortable, enjoy both the inside and the outside, take pontoon rides and kayak on the calm lake in the evening, enjoy S'mores, play games, play in the sand ( for the little ones), eat great meals and just be together. But my daughter had to leave our cabin early because of work. People still get sick and need medical attention on Labor Day.

I want to talk in this post about workplace shootings. September is now here and in Minnesota, we will be remembering the victims of Minnesota's worst workplace shooting which happened last September 27 at the Accent Signage Company. I will be writing more about this closer to that time. Accent Signage was just one of many workplace mass shootings and other shootings in the work place. Let's take a look at more from this article:
Shootings accounted for 78 percent of all workplace homicides in 2010 (405 fatal injuries). More than four-fifths (83 percent) of these workplace homicides from shootings occurred in the private sector, while only 17 percent of such shootings occurred in government. Workplace homicides attributed to shootings involving workers in elementary and secondary schools are relatively uncommon, although 12 were reported between 2006 and 2010. Of the 405 workplace shooting victims in 2010, 110 (or 27 percent) occurred in the retail trade industry. 1 Workplace shooting events account for only a small portion of nonfatal workplace injuries. In 2010, there were 500 nonfatal shootings with days away from work, which was a small fraction of the 1.2 million total nonfatal cases with days away from work reported in that year.
About 4 out of every 5 workplace homicide victims in 2010 were men. The type of assailants in these cases differed, depending on whether the victim was a man or a woman. Robbers and other assailants accounted for 72 percent of homicides to men, for example, and only 37 percent of homicides to women. A substantial difference exists when relatives and other personal acquaintances are the assailants: only 3 percent of homicides to men, but 39 percent to women. Assailants with no known personal relationship to their victims accounted for about two-thirds of workplace homicides. 2
There are some high profile shootings in workplaces some of which I have written about before on this blog. Here are just some of many, most of which are mass shootings:
There are many many more. But I think you get the point. The fact is that people get shot in every nook and cranny of this country. This just doesn't happen in other countries. They are shot in "gun free zones" and guns allowed zones. For a while, there was a term called "going Postal" which referred to several shootings in U.S. Post Offices by disgruntled and angry employees. And the fact that advice is given to employers and employees about what to do in case of an active shooter is an American phenomenon in response to our crazy gun culture. From this article and other advice given, having a gun to stop a shooter while on the job is not recommended. In fact, most work places do not allow employees to carry guns inside. Does anyone remember that Starbucks allows customers to carry guns but not employees? I do. And why not arm employees? Too risky and the cost of insurance in case of an accidental or intentional shooting is just too high. Yes, some people have stopped crimes during robberies or active shootings with their own guns. But these are more rare than the shootings of innocent people in the workplace. Here is some good advice for stores and banks to avoid and prevent robberies or what to do in case of an armed robbery. From the article:
Arguing or becoming belligerent with the robber will upset him. Do not try to be a hero. Just because you don't see a weapon doesn't mean he doesn't have one. By attempting to subdue him, you escalate violence and risk to you and others.
If confronted by a robbery in a bank or store, avoid eye contact, and say you are reaching for your money – then move slowly! Give up your money without stalling or spooking them.
Indeed. A tragic confrontation can be avoided without loss of life. More guns are not the answer.

Happy Labor Day everyone. It's the last official summer time holiday and week-end for outdoor activities, at least in Minnesota where the weather will become cooler soon. As the change in the weather comes, so, too should a change to our nation's gun policies. Congress will be coming back to work as well soon. ( And, of course, no guns are allowed inside of the U.S. Capitol where our elected leaders work). And speaking of guns allowed, or not, where our politicians do their work, this new Star Tribune article about Minnesota Representative Tony Cornish highlights his recent comments about gun violence prevention advocates' feeling intimidated by guns in the Minnesota state Capitol. I mentioned this in my last post. From the article:
In an earlier interview, Cornish had offered that some of his political opponents “wet their pants” every time they saw or mentioned guns. That led to a citizen calling Cornish a “bully.”
In an interview, Cornish said he is not a bully, but rather a blunt-talking politician who isn’t afraid of stepping on people’s sensibilities, especially if they initiate the debate.
Sami Rahamim, who became active on gun control issues after his father, Reuven, was killed in the Accent Signage shootings, called Cornish’s phrase “totally insensitive and inappropriate to anybody who has been harmed by gun violence.”
But Cornish said that his remarks were not directed to victims, but rather to legislative opponents. By the time he was called a bully during hearings, he had already apologized to Rep. Michael Paymar and others, he said.
“The statement I made was a little over the top,” Cornish said Monday.
But Cornish also said his stand on gun rights is uncompromising, and when people get emotional with him, he’ll respond in kind.
“I’m tired of pols who dance around with answers,” he said. “They poke the badger and then get upset when he comes out of the den.”
Cornish said he is simply as passionate about the Second Amendment as journalists are about the First.
The newspaper wouldn’t consider turning over to the government confidential notes from sources to be a good compromise, he said.
Cornish has been known to respond to those who question him brusquely.
Orchestrated e-mail campaigns can be met with “get an idea of your own.”
Or, like this exchange with Dan Wilm, who wrote to Cornish after last week’s hearing: Wilm was bothered by Cornish’s lack of understanding of people who are uncomfortable around guns in public. Cornish shot back that Wilm’s fear was the problem, and he needed to “get to a firearms class.” The terse exchange ended with Cornish saying to the 61-year-old Wilm, “grow up, son.”
He also tells writers: “Don’t ever say anything to a man on e-mail that you wouldn’t say if you were alone with him in a parking lot!”
“Someone can ask me a question, and they can be blunt, that doesn’t bother me,” said Cornish. But if it turns uncivil, Cornish is ready for the fight. He once called former Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan “a gun grabber.”
Wilm, who like Cornish worked for the Department of Natural Resources, sees Cornish as “one of those guys who can dish it out, but he can’t take it.”
Rahamim said he’s experienced intimidation from gun advocates at the Capitol, and Cornish’s heated rhetoric plays well with supporters, but does not help the solve the issues.
A gun “is a killing machine, and to make jokes to encourage that kind of attitude is incredibly irresponsible,” said Rahamim, who is 17.
We don't appreciate being intimidated or bullied. Perhaps there have been no openly intimidating behaviors by the "guys with the guns" at the state Capitol. But their mere presence is intimidating no matter what they think it is. Their tweeting at us during hearings and calling out our names, watching our every move and writing about us on their own blogs is meant to intimidate us. It's time for them to stop this behavior if they want to be taken seriously. If victims of gun violence feel intimidated they feel intimidated and they don't need others to tell them they shouldn't be. There are way too many incidents of "law abiding" gun owners shooting others in public places, and even in places where our leaders work. I have listed them many times on this blog.

So I intend to push for universal background checks which only makes common sense. Why? Because I know there are too many victims of shootings. Because requiring background checks on all gun sales can save lives. Because it's the right thing to do. Because, as a country, we are better than the many many workplace shootings I have listed and the ones I have not. Because we can prevent workplace shootings and other shootings with common sense gun laws and a different gun culture. This is the America we have. Is the America we want or deserve? Enough is enough. Let's get to work.


Because there was a short discussion on this post in the comments section about whether or not the pro gun or gun violence prevention crowd is more ugly and offensive in their comments, I would like to call your attention to this article written by Coalition to Stop Gun Violence for proof of the kind of comments left on the site of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. Some of these folks just love to attack women. They must think we are vulnerable and can be bullied. They would be wrong. I have received like comments on my blog. I don't publish these and many have stopped once I stopped allowing anonymous comments. It's disgusting. Take a look for yourself.


  1. I hate to quibble on facts, but no matter what your president insists on calling it, what happened at FT Hood, an Army installation, was a terrorist attack, committed by an actual terrorist who should have been drummed out of the Army and into a cell LONG before this tragedy happened.

    As far as your feeling intimidated, Im sorry you feel that way, but most of us on the pro-rights side are not in any way attempting to intimidate anyone. That being said, if you're offended by bawdy language or signs that criticize you, your president or this government at rallies, then protests, which are protected under the first amendment, aren't the place for you.

    What you're essentially saying is that pro second amendment crowds, expressing themselves and standing for what they think is right, amounts to intimidation. I fear that your attitude isn't grounded in any sort of fact, but emotion and that its one that seeks to limit free expression. At our rallies, we don't put up with racist, homophobic or otherwise threatening language - it simply has no place in the debate. Please don't paint us all with one broad brush, and at the same time, you opened yourself to criticism the second you published a blog and or became active in the movement -- just as I have from the other side.

    1. first of all, people were working on the base the day Nidal Hasan opened fire on them. There are sites that claim it was not a workplace shooting. What difference does it make? A whole bunch of people were killed while at work. Yes it was a terrorist attack as well. I suppose we could call many of these terrorist attacks since we have our own home grown terrorists. But because Hisan was a Muslim, does that make it a terrorist attack? It could go either or both ways but it doesn't matter. Are you less concerned about the victims because it was a terrorist attack? I agree that the guy should not have been in the army but he was. I hope they do a better job of screening some of the folks who are in the service. We have had a number of shootings on our military bases by folks with mental health issues or other issues.

      When you guys assemble, you assemble with loaded guns. When you show up with loaded guns that makes a difference. People should be able to assemble for events without other people with loaded guns around. No matter what you say, the public finds others with loaded guns to be intimidating. Do not demean or belittle us for our actual feelings or tell us how we should feel when you guys come around with your guns. It is more than emotion. It is factual. We know what happens and what has happened to our loved ones when someone with a loaded gun decides to act on their anger or in distress. Those are real feelings and real facts. So stop with the emotion stuff. I could say the same about you. It's your fear and paranoia that cause to feel so afraid in public that you have to carry a loaded gun around with you wherever you go. Please remember that you all are in a very small minority of people who choose to carry your guns around. And you are not all law abiding as I point out constantly on my blog. How do we know who you are and what you intend? We don't know you. We have no idea if you are law abiding or not. Why wouldn't someone with mental issues show up at a public gathering like Jared Loughner and start shooting?

      So Max, your disingenuous claims don't work with us. Please don't paint us all with a broad brush either. I did not open myself up to the kind of criticism I have received on this blog. It is offensive sometimes and just not OK. That is a problem for folks on your side. Unless you guys realize that you do all get painted with a broad brush because the gun lobby promotes this fear and hysteria about gun grabbers ( a broad brush) then we will continue to have this sort of discourse which is not productive.

      Since even most gun owners agree with me and even NRA members, I am less concerned about what you all think about me. The facts are on my side, by the way. I provide links to the facts all the time on my blog. You just don't like them and don't want to believe them. That is your problem and not mine. As for racist stuff or threatening language at your rallies? Are you kidding me? I have provided countless examples of just the opposite. All you need to do is Google and you will find what I am talking about.

  2. None of my claims are disingenuous, if we're at a public rally and have firearms its because the law allows us to be there. Yes, that means if open carry is allowed in your state, its allowed -- if someone is making a threat with a firearm, then you certainly have a case to say you're threatened, but the mere presence of a firearm? Come on. Im not speaking for rallies in other states and am NOT responsible for them - I can only say if they are showing up, in many cases, there are provocateurs playing for their own agenda.

    I live in MA, so trust me, open carry doesn't happen. Its concealed and none of us are willing to risk our licensure. As far as threats, we've had politicians and leaders from your side make some not so veiled threats to our side. I had a woman come up to me after I gave a discussion in boston, who told me she'd like nothing more than if I woke up with my throat slit because Im a baby killer. I won't name the organization she was with, but yes, she was definitely from your side.

    I don't make a bigger deal of it - she was reported to the police and that was that. But I do recognize, as I get seen online or in public for what I do, that I am in the public eye and for that reason, I am careful as to what I say and do -- for I opened myself and my life up to public discourse and scrutiny by the very position I chose to advocate for.

    As for Hassan, if you read the whole story, he was regularly in touch with a radical cleric in Yemen - he was under investigation for his writings and what he'd said to colleagues regarding Islam and the US military's presence in the Middle East. It was a terrorist event, it should have been treated as a terrorist event and for your president to call it "workplace violence" dishonors the personnel who were targeted/killed that day. Yes, the distinction matters - its as if he was calling Flight 93's crash into the world trade center an "aviation accident" and that's disingenuous as it is un-presidential.

    Calling us a small minority doesn't make it so, of course you know that. Im not a member of the NRA, and Im not an extremist. I am however a student of the constitution -- assemble all the specious majorities you like, we're not living in a democracy but a constitutional republic - that means our rights are sacrosanct and not subject to the whims of mob rule.

    But I come to you seeking the discussion you often say you want to have. I am FOR background checks and have never had a problem advocating for them on both my side and with the rational amongst yours. The problem comes in with the finger pointing and the emotion - emotion HAS TO BE SEPERATE from the discussion for it to be practical.

  3. Dear Max,

    I don't intend to quibble any longer about the differences that are obvious. There is no point. As to whether the Fort Hood shooting was a terror attack, there is an attempt on the part of conservatives ( and some of the victims) to label it as such so victims can get better remunerations for the suffering. http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/New-Push-Made-to-List-Fort-Hood-Shooting-as-Terror-222206321.html

    This article explains more- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/10/fort-hood-shooting-terrorism_n_3736888.html
    "On Monday, the staff of the magazine National Review launched a petition drive directed at Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, arguing that the Army psychiatrist should be tried as an enemy combatant for what they consider "an Act of Terror."

    "By not designating this event as such an act, it disrespects the lives of the 13 who lost their lives that day, and dozens more who were injured," the petition reads. "This is outrageous and I call on you to change the official designation now" before proceedings against Hasan go further.

    While Silliman understands the outrage, he says transferring the case to civil courts – where a terror charge could attach – was just not possible.

    "It would have been totally unprecedented to have that sort of thing occur," says Silliman, who has served as senior attorney at two large military installations and three major Air Force commands. "Now, if the crime had occurred off the post, then there might have been what we call concurrent jurisdiction between the civilian authorities and the military authorities."

    Why can't the administration call this an act of terror without charging Hasan as a terrorist? According to a widely quoted Pentagon position paper opposing Purple Hearts for the victims that would allow the defense to argue that Hasan "cannot receive a fair trial because a branch of government has indirectly declared that Major Hasan is a terrorist – that he is criminally culpable."

    Reed Rubinstein, one of the attorneys representing a number of the shooting victims and their families, calls that argument "disingenuous."

    The National Counterterrorism Center and State Department both counted the incident among terror attacks that year, he notes. The White House and Department of Defense have balked, he argues, because too many people didn't heed warning signs that Hasan was becoming increasingly radical leading up to his deployment to Afghanistan.

    "The truth of the matter is, it comes down to politics," the Washington attorney says. "It comes down to covering up the political correctness that was the proximate cause of this attack in the first instance." Rubinstein is not calling for a terrorism charge but argues the government could administratively rule this was an act of terror so his clients can qualify for more benefits and the Purple Heart, which comes with its own set of recognitions and privileges.

    Hasan is representing himself during the court-martial. Because he faces the death penalty, military law precluded him from entering a guilty plea. But he conceded in his opening statement Tuesday, as he has previously, that he did the shooting.

    Military prosecutors could have added a civilian charge of terrorism, says Geoffrey Corn, a retired lieutenant colonel and former military lawyer. But he argues that would have added an unnecessary layer of complexity with little, if any, benefit.

    "It's never been done in a military court before," says Corn, a professor at the South Texas College of Law. "Was he motivated by a terrorist agenda? Certainly. Will they present that evidence? Certainly. But the crimes he committed were premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder."

    1. And continued: Corn says it would be difficult to make the case for Hasan as an enemy combatant. While Hasan may have been inspired by al-Qaida and even had contact with known terror suspects, it does not appear he received orders from the group, Corn says.

      Rubinstein terms the government's refusal to call the shooting incident a terrorist attack for purposes of awarding benefits "a kick in the teeth to the victims.

      "They have to hear about workplace violence," he says. "They're told that what happened to them was no big deal. Pay no attention to the fact that he was a jihadist. Never mind that we knew and the FBI knew. But his career, because of his ethnicity and his religion, was more important to us than your lives. Forget all that."

      Government attorneys have asked a federal judge to postpone the civil case, which seeks to reclassify the incident so as to make combat-related pay and other benefits available to the victims, until after the court-martial and post-trial processing are completed. That could take up to nine months.

      There is much more in this article to read about the reasons why the military designated the act as they did.

    2. Max, again- And then there is this from Senator Cruz-http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/cruz-blasts-administration-not-calling-ft-hood-shooting-terrorist-attack
      Whenever Senator Cruz criticizes "my" president, I come down on the side of "my" president. On that we will disagree.

      As you your story, I am not going to go tit for tat. I have plenty of my own. There is no reason to continue along that line since it would be unproductive.

      I'm glad to hear that you are in favor of background checks. That does put you in the majority of gun owners and Americans and even NRA members. I am also glad you are not an NRA member. We happen to disagree about a lot of things but it sounds like we have some agreement on the most important thing.