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.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The latest school shooting and denial by the gun lobby and elected leaders

This post was amended since first published.

It's happened again- another school day, another school shooting. This time it was in Nevada where a young boy took a gun from his parent's home and shot and killed a teacher. The teacher died trying to save students in his classroom. I guess we could say he died a hero. From the article:
"Nevada schoolteacher Michael Landsberry is being praised as a hero after he was shot and killed on Monday morning defending his students from a boy gunman.
When a disgruntled seventh-grader with a gun entered his classroom at Sparks Middle School on Monday, Landsberry rushed toward the student, attempting to shield his class and talk the gunman into dropping his weapon. Instead, the youth shot and killed Landsberry before wounding two more students and taking his own life. The news of Landsberry’s death has rocked the community of Sparks and neighboring Reno.
“In my estimation, he is a hero,” Tim Robinson, deputy chief of the Sparks police, said at an afternoon press conference. “We do know he was trying to intervene.” (...) 
CNN reports that both wounded students are in stable condition at a nearby hospital. Neither they nor the killer have been identified publicly due to their age. Authorities have, however, revealed that the 13-year-old killer used a handgun stolen from his parents' house in the shooting.
Landsberry, 45, was a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan and a member of the Nevada National Air Guard. After his career in the military, he earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nevada, Reno, and went on to teach eighth-grade math at Sparks Middle School. Students say Landsberry was a popular figure around the school, who loved teaching and cared for his students. He was also popular as a basketball coach and reportedly allowed students to rub his bald head for luck before games.
"It's very unfortunate that (the life of) someone like that, who protected our country over there and came back alive ... had to be taken at his work, at a school," Sparks Mayor Geno Martini told CNN. "It's very devastating.""
Yes. Devastating.

The thing is, we have just finished, or hopefully finished, two devastating wars in which we lost a lot of American lives. Shouldn't people be safer here at home than in a war zone? Er uh, ............ I guess not. More Americans die in a few months here at home than died in the entire Iraq war. That includes gun homicides, suicides and accidental deaths. Why aren't we demanding change? Why do we let this happen over and over and over again? Ask the corporate gun lobby that question. Ask your elected leaders that question. For they can do something about this but they won't. Why not? Follow the money.

Sick. Disgusting.

There have been other gun incidents near and in our schools since the beginning of this school year. Many are not reported by the national media and so don't get the attention they deserve. This one in Michigan is just one example of such a shooting.  I do like this quote from the article:
"It's a damn shame our kids can't go to school and come home (safely)," said LaDon Nixon, a resident of the neighborhood who also has children who go to the high school.
Yes, indeed. It's a shame. Should we shrug our shoulders and move on? Should we hide from a major public health and safety crisis before our very eyes? Or should we do something about it starting with studying the causes and effects of gun violence. Some are doing that now. Will the studies result in a fact based assessment of our country's national public health and safety crisis of excessive gun violence? Not if you listen to the NRA's radio program where guests and the host regularly confuse their own paranoid rhetoric with facts. From a Media Matters article about a new study about gun violence and the resulting NRA rhetoric: 
"The National Rifle Association's media arm, NRA News, attacked an academic study on gunshot injuries to children by conspiratorially suggesting that the study was part of a "kids and anti-gun hype" movement to ban firearms. NRA News host Cam Edwards further dismissed teenage victims of gun violence by falsely stating that they are culpable for their injuries because of their supposed involvement in criminal activity.
The NRA is notorious for blocking scientific research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. During the 1990s, the gun rights organization successfully lobbied for legislation that prevented the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in practice, from researching gun violence. While the legislation -- which prohibited CDC funding "to advocate or promote gun control" -- did not technically ban research on firearms, it was widely acknowledged in practice to have a chilling effect on the CDC's research priorities. The Obama administration advocated for $10 million in funding for the CDC to study gun violence in January, noting that "research on gun violence is not advocacy." (...) During his appearance, Wheeler, along with Edwards, suggested that the Pediatrics study -- which chronicled nearly 30,000 gun fatalities and 155,000 serious gunshot wounds in children between 2001 and 2010 -- was part of an effort to "hype" child gun injury in order to ban firearms.

According to Wheeler, the study represented what he termed "kids and anti-gun hype" and was "designed to shock readers into mentally associating guns with the death of children," even though he claims it does not contain any "revelations or any new findings." Edwards concurred, stating that the study "is not about gun safety, this is about getting rid of guns.""
Really? Getting rid of guns? Where does Edwards get that idea? Just look at the facts. And more, from the above linked article that should make us sit up and take notice:
"The study, which does not call for banning guns, but rather concludes that "[p]ublic health, injury prevention, and health policy solutions are needed to reduce gunshot injuries in children," does offer new information about gunshot injuries in children. As the study notes, "There have been few population-based studies of children with gunshot injuries over the past decade. Similarly, gun research integrating the role of 9-1-1 emergency services has been limited. Our study involved both of these important elements."
Among the study's important findings is, "Although gunshot injuries accounted for only 1% of injured children, they were associated with more than 20% of deaths after injury." "
There has been another school shooting. A boy got a gun from his home and shot a teacher and wounded some students. Then he shot himself. Two students were injured in the shooting. Shocking is right. If readers are shocked by the truth, then perhaps they will insist that we do something about it. The NRA and its' minions sure as heck should be shocked by a scientific study that shows actual numbers of actual kids getting shot by actual bullets. This is no joke. This is no made-up study. These are the facts. The denial exhibited by the gun rights extremists is what should be shocking to us. Hype? That is what happens when someone is not telling the truth. Where is common sense?

So what do these folks have to say about making sure kids can't get their hands on their parents' guns. At the Kid Shootings blog, to which I contribute, we say that "every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult." Where do these folks think that kids get their guns in the first place? They don't fall out of the sky. They are stolen, they are found around the home readily accessible, they are purchased from someone on the street. Where did that person on the street get the gun? All gun purchases start out as legal purchases unless there was a straw purchase at a Federally Licensed gun dealer. That happens enough that we need to make sure gun dealers are monitored by the ATF for their activities so illegal activity is stopped. If someone who shouldn't be able to buy a gun gets one anyway through a private sale on the Internet, from an unlicensed seller at a gun show, or another such venue, it is still legal because we haven't made it illegal. That is what is shocking. That is what should be in plain site for all to see.

Come on America. Wake up. This is nothing to deny. This is nothing to ignore. The facts are the facts. Laws can make positive changes but all gun deaths will not be stopped by laws alone. A change in the conversation about guns and gun violence can lead to an understanding that guns in the home are a risk to those in the home and potentially to others. When guns are easily stolen and easily accessed by children and teens, we are all at risk.

Let's get to work and do something to stop the daily carnage by bullets in our communities. We deserve to have safe communities where gun violence doesn't devastate our families. We are better than this.


Since of one my readers pointed out that Nevada has a safe storage law ( Child Access Prevention) I need to point out one very important thing about those laws. People don't abide by them. We should enforce the laws on the book, right? But the NRA doesn't like these laws. From this article:
Not surprisingly, a National Rifle Association 2013 fact sheet opposing "safe-storage" laws stated children were more likely to be killed by falls, poisoning or environmental factors. The Times analyzed actual death records in the few states where the records are public. The report established that accidental child deaths from guns are underreported by a factor of two, blowing a hole through the NRA's position.
Gun-rights advocates assert that a majority of accidental shootings of children are committed by adult criminals. The Times established this as false. Tragically, children were usually the shooters.
Accidental shooting of children is a far larger problem than previously thought. But the NRA opposes all attempts to require safe storage and has even successfully had its congressional lackeys pass legislation that prevents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from even studying the problem.
Though the school shooting in Nevada was an intentional shooting, the 12 year old boy got his gun at home. Was it easily accessible to him? Guns should never be accessible to children without adult supervision. Does the NRA telegraph their disdain for these laws to its' members? So why should people want to follow the law in states that have them if they get a message from the NRA telling them it's not necessary to follow the law. Until that changes, we can expect to see more children shooting themselves, each other or other people in accidents or intentional shootings.



  1. japete writes: "Even then, if a person who can legally buy a gun for someone who can't, that purchase is legal."

    This is not legal. Not under Minnesota law - and not under federal law. Why are you claiming that this is a legal purchase - it's not?

    1. Thanks. I erred in my statement and did not mean to imply that this was a legal activity. I have made changes in the post.

  2. From the tone of your post you seem to be saying that this event was an example of what happens in the absence of what you view as “common sense” firearm laws. Under Nevada law, it is already illegal: (1) to carry or possess a gun in a school facility (NRS § 202.265); (2) to discharge a firearm at or into a vehicle or structure (NRS § 202.280); (3) to aim a firearm, whether loaded or not, at another human being (NRS § 202.290); (4) for a child under 18 years old to possess or handle a firearm without parental supervision (NRS § 202.300); (5) to draw or exhibit a firearm in a threatening manner (NRS § 202.320); and (6) to carry a concealed firearm without a permit (NRS § 202.350). The shooter in question broke no less than six laws before he ever shot or killed anyone else (both of which are also illegal).

    In addition, Nevada does have “safe storage” provisions in NRS §§ 41.472 and 202.300 that make it illegal to permit a child to access a firearm and render the person who allowed access “jointly and severally liable with the minor for any and all damages caused by such negligence or willful misconduct.” A person will be held not to aid a child in accessing a firearm if “The firearm was stored in a securely locked container or at a location which a reasonable person would have believed to be secure.” If the shooter’s parents did not have the firearm in question locked up, they will be held civilly liable and could be charged with felonies.

    In light of the foregoing, could you please explain what additional “common sense” laws, if they had been in place on Monday, would have stopped this young man from murdering his teacher, shooting his classmates, and taking his own life? What exactly do you want? And if all of the foregoing laws did not dissuade this young man from doing what he did, why do you believe that additional laws would have stopped him?

    1. I have addressed this in other posts. I have amended this post to address it. Laws won't stop every shooting. But laws can give a message that we will not tolerate the random carnage and get us to think differently about our gun culture. This does not happen in other countries where there are strict laws and an understanding that gun violence is not acceptable or to be tolerated.