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, October 28, 2013

Gun mistakes

This post has been updated since first published.

Oh dear. This story would be amusing if it didn't mean that someone got hurt by an errant bullet. A Norwegian hunter missed his moose and hit a man sitting on the toilet in his cabin. Bullets really don't know where to stop so it's not surprising that stray bullets find their way into some one's body.

Then there's this one. Children are curious about guns and will try to shoot one if given a chance. In this case an officer left his AR-15 unattended and voila, a child found it and pulled the trigger. From an article:

"A student pulled the trigger on an AR-15 that was mounted on a police motorcycle that was on display during an event for students, according to Tamrin Olden, a spokeswoman for the Chino Police Department.

“The rifle was…secured in the mount on the motorcycle during the incident,” Olden said at an evening news conference. “The child did approach the mounted rifle.”

Two students were taken to local hospitals for minor injuries after the 11:14 a.m. incident, Olden said.

It was likely that metal debris struck the two students, she said.

The “accidental discharge” incident occurred at Newman Elementary School during a demonstration that was part of “Red Ribbon Week,” a weeklong event promoting drug awareness, according to a statement from Chino Valley Unified School District.

One student was treated for scrapes and cuts at the school while two were taken to hospitals with lacerations, a Chino Valley Fire Department spokesperson said.

None of the children was shot, according to the fire department.

Similar rifles have removed from other motorcycles used by the police department pending a continuing investigation, Olden said.

“We are looking into what exactly led to the accidental discharge,” Olden said. “There are security systems in place to prevent that. That’s part of the investigation as far as how that ended up happening.”"

How do these kinds of "accidental discharges" or mistakes happen? Children and guns are a bad combination. Kids will find guns and pull the triggers if given the chance. Unfortunately they have far too many chances. Read the Kid Shootings blog for more about this.

And what is a young Washington boy doing with 400 rounds of ammunition found while he was at school?
"An 11-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder Wednesday night after Vancouver police officers found a handgun and more than 400 rounds of ammunition at Frontier Middle School, 7600 N.E. 166th Ave.
The school and adjacent Pioneer Elementary School were put into lockdown Wednesday about 9:20 a.m. for two hours.
Officers said they also found several knives, according to a press release distributed about 10 p.m. Wednesday.
There were no injuries in the incident.
The boy is a student and was booked into the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center."
At the end of the above article there is a statement about taking down the comments because of too many offensive and insensitive comments. I wonder what that was all about? Why do people feel a need to be offensive? In the years I have been writing this blog, I have never figured out the anger and the vitriol about the gun issue. But I digress. Another article mentions that the boy heard voices in his head telling him to shoot a bully at his school. Wow, just wow. Where did he get the gun and ammunition? Likely from home. These shooters are getting younger and younger. 11? What's going on? Someone made a potentially tragic mistake. 11 year olds should not have access to 400 rounds of ammunition, a handgun and knives with the intent to kill others.

There's been another shooting at a military installation. This time in Tennessee. There are, of course, armed people at military bases. This time it was one of the armed National Guard members who used his gun in an altercation. What the heck? Without the gun, there would have been an altercation but now 2 military members have been injured over a disagreement. It's always a mistake to settle an argument with a gun.

Senseless and avoidable.

There's a new way to sell guns. Now people can take a photo of their guns and advertise them for sale on Instagram. Can we presume these guns are being sold without background checks? I think we can. This is really bad idea and will surely lead to guns being sold to people who shouldn't have them. It would be a mistake to ignore this new market for potential illegal gun trafficking.

Was this one a mistake? Police in Minnetonka, Minnesota shot a young man who they said pointed a gun at them. It may be a little while before we know the details here. At any rate, a man with a gun he was taking into his girlfriend's apartment, seemingly innocent, appeared to point it at officers. When this happens, officers react. I wonder why? There are enough incidents of dangerous people pointing guns at officers and shooting them or other people that the response comes quickly. I'm sure this one is not over yet as demands for a review of the incident will lead to an investigation to get to the bottom of this tragic incident.

I must admit to not even having words for this incident. An off-duty police officer ended up shooting the father of a little girl who he hit with his motorcycle:
An off-duty Chicago police officer is under investigation after a motorcycle accident turned first into a street fight, and then into a shooting.
Four-year-old Taniyah Middleton and her cousin were crossing a street in Maywood, a suburb west of Chicago, as an eight-year veteran off-duty Chicago police officer was riding his motorcycle, the news site The Grio reported. The officer — who Chicago police refuse to identify publicly — ditched his bike to avoid hitting the girl, but the bike struck her anyway. She survived.
Her father, Christopher Middleton, 26, ran to his daughter’s aid and began a fight with the officer. According to reports, the officer shot Middleton when after 18-year-old John Passley, Taniyah’s cousin who had been crossing the street with her, joined in the attack by kicking the officer. Investigation of this police involved shooting is being conducted by the Independent Police Review Authority.
There are so many mistakes in the above incident from start to finish.

It's a horrific mistake for 5 people to lose their lives in a shooting over a dog barking. Yes, you saw that right. A dog barking incident sparked a mass shooting. What could be more wrong? From an article about this incident:
Residents in the area told The Arizona Republic that the suspect and victims had previously argued over barking dogs. 
Police responded to a call from a nearby resident saying shots had been fired about 9 a.m. near 17th Avenue and Hazelwood Street.
Officers arrived at the scene and began making enquiries into the source of the gunshots.
After entering one property, they found the four victims – two on the patio, and two inside – and the two dogs. All were pronounced dead at the scene.
The body of the suspect was found in a second property close by.
Oh yes, and 2 dogs were also shot. You can't make this stuff up.

How do these kinds of tragic mistakes continue to happen? When a gun is at the ready, it may get used and it may cause an irreversible death or injury. What a mess these incidents are. Surely, they have all now caused a lot of pain and suffering to all concerned. For some, there will be time in jail as well.

Senseless. Avoidable.

Over the week-end, Virginia Republican candidate for Governor and current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, mistakenly bragged about his NRA endorsement at a candidate forum at Virginia Tech. Really? Seems like a bad idea to me. It was obviously a purposeful move intended to gain the support of the minority of people who don't believe that background checks are important to saving lives. But then, when you are bought and paid for by the NRA, I guess you think you can say anything. Clearly this was not the right venue for the NRA's rhetoric of denial, fear and paranoia. From the article:
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) boasted at Virginia Tech, site of the 2007 shootings that killed 32 people, that he opposed universal background checks and was proud of his “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. Terry McAuliffe, his Democratic opponent for Governor, vowed to support efforts to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals and vowed to prioritize the safety of students over the group’s ratings.
In the final debate of the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign Thursday, both candidates were asked whether they supported universal background checks for gun purchases — a concept supported by 92 percent of Virginians according to a January poll. McAuliffe told the Blacksburg, Virginia audience that, “as a parent [and] a spouse,” as a gun owner, and as a hunter, he supported both the Second Amendment and universal background checks. Noting the pin he was wearing in memory of the 2007 victims, McAuliffe said, “some people should not own guns.”
Cuccinelli responded by dismissing the need for background checks, telling the questioner, “none of what you’ve asked about would have affected that tragedy” at Virginia Tech. Cuccinelli then bragged that the National Rifle Association, which has steadfastly opposed against any efforts to check the criminal backgrounds of arms purchasers:
Really Mr. Cuccinelli? Perhaps you forgot already that your state changed the law and a national law was passed requiring states to report the names of adjudicated mentally ill people to our federal background check system ( NICS) so that people like Cho, the shooter who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech, would not be able to legally buy guns from licensed dealers, as he did. We still have the gaping loophole in the background check system that allows for dangerously mentally ill people to purchase guns and ammunition from private sellers without background checks at gun shows, on the Internet and other venues. But apparently Mr. Cuccinelli doesn't care about that either. That is more than a mistake. That is irresponsible. When candidates are endorsed by the NRA, they leave their common sense at the door or somewhere else and start spouting illogical nonsense.

Let's see if the voters think common sense trumps the corporate gun lobby's denial, fear and paranoia. More from the article, linked above:
The National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund has spent more than $500,000 in support of Cuccinelli so far in 2013 — the most of any outside group to date.
While Cuccinelli is correct that McAuliffe is the only one of the six major party candidates running for Virginia’s three statewide offices with an “F” rating — the Democratic nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general received “D” ratings from the group — that may not matter much. A year ago, Virginia voters gave majority support to both President Barack Obama and Sen. Tim Kaine (D). Kaine also received an “F” rating from the group and the NRA’s political committee spend more than $10 million to try to defeat Obama in 2012.

We can't afford to make mistakes with guns or with gun policy. Lives depend on our getting America's gun policy and gun culture right. And the NRA's money may not do the trick any more. It really hasn't anyway but the myth of the power of the corporate gun lobby's money persists. We have seen far too many mass shootings and every day shootings in this country lately. Voters are taking notice of the extreme positions of NRA backed candidates and picking the candidates who will do the right thing to save lives and keep our communities from experiencing the continued devastation of gun violence. We are better than what we now have. It's time for what we have now to change. We have been mistaken for far too long.


I know that I can't be finished with my posts because there is always another incident to write about. I am wondering what kind of mistaken impression some of the gun rights extremists and criminals have of police officers? Sure, officers make mistakes, as I wrote about, above. But they are also the target of some pretty crazy people. Check out this incident in Albequerque, New Mexico over the week-end when officers were ambushed by a guy with a tattoo with the words "Cop Killer" on his body:
A man who wounded four Albuquerque law enforcement officers during a high-speed chase through the city had a tattoo labeled "cop killer," authorities said Sunday.
Albuquerque Police Chief Allen Banks identified the gunman as 35-year-old Christopher Chase, who died after crashing a stolen police car Saturday at a gasoline station.
Albuquerque television station KOAT reported (http://bit.ly/HnCiZX ) that Chase was armed with an assault rifle.
Three Albuquerque police officers and a Bernalillo County sheriff's deputy were wounded during the shooting spree. Police declined to identify the three officers or to provide many details of their injuries, but one remains hospitalized.
Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy Robin Hopkins is in the intensive care unit of an Albuquerque hospital, according to Sheriff Dan Houston. She had worked for the law enforcement agency since 1998.
Banks said Chase stole a police car after an officer took cover after coming under fire.
Witnesses said Chase told them to call police and "he would be waiting for them," Banks said at a news conference, according to video posted on the website of KOB-TV (http://bit.ly/1gTwd7d ).
Chase was dressed in body armor, camouflage clothing and wore a black mask.
A quote in the article called this a senseless and cowardly act. Too true. Just what happens to people when they think they can pull something like this off and get away with it? The lives of 4 officers were in danger, not to mention the potential for other innocent strangers to be injured or killed. Was this a "suicide by cop" act? Whatever it was, the man who carried it out made a tragic mistake and lost. How did this criminal get his hands on the gun in the first place? That is the question that needs to be asked and answered.


There's been another spree shooting- in Texas. Five people are dead. From the article:
A man suspected of killing his mother and four other people during a quick series of attacks in his rural North Texas community struggles with drug addiction, his brother said Tuesday. (...)
Terrence Walker told The Associated Press that his brother, 36-year-old Charles Everett Brownlow Jr., lived at their mother's home in Terrell. He said his brother "always wanted to take something that wasn't his," and that their mother, Mary Brownlow, always put up with it.

"I was hoping my mom would open her eyes and realize that she needed to let him grow up, put him out," said Walker, who said an aunt was among the other victims. Walker said his own family spent the night at a hotel instead of their home in Forney, and that he was armed with a pistol in case his brother came after him.
The man was addicted to drugs. How did he get his guns? It sounds like the family knew about his addiction and his brother bought a gun in case his brother came after him? He was lucky he didn't become one of the victims in this incident. His gun would likely not have actually protected him in this surprise attack. Guns and drugs just do not go together.


What are people thinking when they get out their guns to shoot at each other on a Sunday morning in a neighborhood where other people are out and about? Check this one out:
Two people were charged Monday in connection with a Sunday morning shooting that wounded a child near Chili Avenue and Thurston Road. According to police, the 11-year-old boy is recovering at Strong Hospital, surrounded by family. The second victim has been arrested. 29-year-old Quentin Singletary, of Rochester, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Police said Singletary took part in the gun exchange that got him and the boy shot. Singletary got hit in the upper body and is expected to survive. (...) 
The 11-year-old is not connected to any of the suspects, police said he was in the wrong place and the wrong time and got caught in the crossfire.
No, actually. The boy was in the right place at the wrong time. Kids should be able to walk around in their neighborhoods without fear of being shot by stray bullets from a gun fight down the block.

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