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.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Home grown terrorists

I have been writing about the Texas Open Carry movement of late. These are folks who believe they can "normalize" the open carrying of guns on the streets of our communities. The thing is, it is NOT normal to walk around the streets with an openly carried loaded gun- no matter what these folks think. They are getting away with this because the corporate gun lobby has been pushing for and succeeded in passing gun permit laws that allow people to carry their guns openly in public places. The agenda of the NRA lobbyists and leaders is not a peaceful one. When a group of people with guns strut around towns with their guns, they terrorize and intimidate the public. And that is exactly what they want. They want us to be afraid of them. They will tell you otherwise. They will tell you that they are just exercising their rights. That is a bunch of baloney. The "founding fathers" did not envision a country where citizens walked around armed for no reason other than that they could.

So when a North Dakota town was taken over by White Supremacists, they got away with it for a while. Finally, though, they went too far. Two of their kind just got arrested. From this article:
Authorities arrested white supremacists Craig Cobb and Kynan Dutton on Saturday in Leith, N.D., after the men walked along streets carrying firearms in the small town they’re trying to turn into an all-white enclave.
Grant County Sheriff’s Deputy John Foss said authorities arrested Cobb and Dutton on Saturday afternoon on suspicion of terrorizing. Foss declined to release further details until formal charges are filed.
More about the incident in a small town of North Dakota:
The intimidation with firearms began Friday when Cobb and his supporters put up signs throughout town with swastikas and sayings such as “Village of the Damned,” Cook said.
Someone was taking photos of the signs when Cobb and Dutton approached him carrying guns, Cook said.
“This is a serious situation,” Cook said. “It’s to the point of bloodshed.”
Cobb, who is wanted in Canada for an alleged hate crime, has been buying lots in Leith and recruiting others with similar views to move there so they can take over a voting majority and turn it into an all-white enclave.
Dutton and his family moved from Oregon to Leith in October and have been living in Cobb’s home, which does not have running water or sewer. Before Saturday’s arrest, Dutton had been out on bond for a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge after he disrupted a Leith City Council meeting in October and was removed by law enforcement.
On Thursday, Cobb received a notice from the city that he has 30 days to install running water and sewer in his home, Cook said.
Cobb told the Associated Press he will comply with the city’s ordinance but he is pursuing a civil rights complaint with the state because he feels he is being unfairly targeted.
These are not "law abiding" gun owners. Do we have to look back at the Civil War in our country and the ugly time when slave owners brutalized black Americans? What is this stuff all about anyway? Such hatred and racism should not be tolerated in 2013 America. I went to the movie 12 Years a Slave last night. If that movie doesn't remind us of the ugliness of racism, nothing will. Further, if these are the folks, along with the Texas Open Carry folks and others around the country who flaunt their rights ( check out guns at Starbucks) are going to be the poster boys for gun rights, it's time for the country to take a good long look at who they really are. Just check out the photo in the above article of the two guys strutting around with their rifles. Cute, right? And usually, as in this case, someone comes along with their cell phone video camera to record the arrest of the "gun guys". They do this, of course, because they always claim false arrest. I mean, they have their rights after all. These arrogant and dangerous folks are showing up in communities all over our country. The Southern Poverty Law Center is keeping track of groups like the one in North Dakota. Such hate and vitriol is scary at the least. There has been an increase in this sort of activity in recent years. This article highlights the increase in hate groups since the election of our country's first Black President:
The center said the number of anti-government patriot groups rose 813 percent since 2008, the year before Obama took office, to 1,360 groups, far exceeding the previous peak in the 1990s — when they were fighting assault weapons legislation. The anti-government groups were up 7 percent from the 1,274 in 2011.
“The anger, angst, frustration, fear surrounding the economy have very much poured fuel on this fire,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC.
The rise in hate groups prompted the SPLC to write a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, warning of the potential for domestic terrorism and urging the creation of a task force to assess whether there are enough federal resources devoted to the threat.
“As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns,” wrote SPLC President Richard Cohen, a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group.
David Gletty, a former FBI informant who spent time undercover with various militia and extremist groups, told CNN that these groups are feeling especially threatened right now.
“They believe the Constitution is being raped. With hate groups, things are going to get worse because they feel like they’re in battle,” Gletty said. “It’s not surprising with their hatred of President (Barack) Obama that there are even more hate groups out there.”
This ludicrous hatred and fear about laws to prevent gun violence is unfounded, of course. But never mind. The corporate gun lobby contributes to the frenzy of hatred with their own encouragement to buy as many guns as you can before the government comes for them. Just watch a fairly recent speech by the NRA's own Wayne LaPierre:

We know what he means when he says that the rest of our freedoms rely on the second amendment. Really? LaPierre is speaking in not so subtle language to the gun rights extremists who think that that it is only at the end of a gun that we keep our freedoms. These folks are at the ready just in case the government is coming for their guns. It is not that a foreign country is coming for their guns. For we have a Military and the National Guard for that purpose. It is to fight against their own government. That is what the LAX airport shooter had in mind apparently. An armed society is not a polite society. We have copious evidence of that. We should have the right to be free from gun violence. But I digress.

These are folks who actually believe they are in danger from their own government. They make false references to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as if the same could happen here. This leads to ramped up paranoia and fear and ramped up groups of home grown terrorists. It is devoid of all common sense. Most Americans simply do not believe this stuff.

The gun rights extremists are also being encouraged by conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones and also the Tea Party and some of its' politicians- here, Senator Rand Paul, and Rep. Steve King for just a few examples of the hateful and paranoid rhetoric now rampant in the fringe underbelly of America's politics. This ramped up hysteria is leading to some frightening and intolerant scenarios all over the country. My friends at Coalition to Stop Gun Violence are keeping track of incidents like the one described above on the Insurrectionist Timeline. My friend at New Trajectory also writes about this alarming trend in American gun politics. 

We don't live in a Democracy when the "guys with the guns" make a show of force by walking around with their loaded guns to intimidate their fellow citizens. These are the ones who threaten our Democracy, not those who want to prevent gun violence. The parents and relatives of the Sandy Hook school shooting are asking for a coming together of the voices involved in the "debate" about gun rights and gun violence prevention. Sandy Hook Promise is asking for common sense. But if you read the comments on their website and Facebook page, you will see that for some people there is no compromise. It's loaded guns on the streets or nothing for them. All the Sandy Hook Promise is asking for is reasonable laws to keep guns away from those who shouldn't have them. And they are asking, as are all of the gun violence prevention advocates, for a change in the culture and conversation about gun violence. Why this is such a threat to law abiding gun owners is a mystery.

There are countries all over the world who regulate guns and gun owners without taking guns away. And the lesson we can learn from this is that there are very few gun deaths and injuries in these countries. America takes the lead of civilized countries not at war for the number of gun deaths and injuries. That is what we should fear. We should fear the fact that our government has not been able to pass common sense gun laws because of the corporate gun lobby and their minions who falsely believe the government is out for their guns. The government is out for preventing the gun violence that devastates our communities every day. We have a serious national public health and safety epidemic that we are ignoring. And while we are waiting for our leaders to do the right thing, the carnage continues. I often refer my readers to several blogs. One is Joe Nocera's The Gun Report in which he reports on actual shootings of actual people. Another is Ohh Shoot which gathers incidents of accidental gun discharges and mostly by "law abiding" gun owners. Another is keeping track of incidents of shootings by and of children at Kid Shootings blog. There are so many incidents that it's hard to keep up with them.

What we have in America is a whole lot of senseless, avoidable gun deaths and injuries. These incidents take a huge emotional and physical toll on people all over the country not to mention the actual financial cost of gun deaths and injuries. So why are we not acting, given the facts? You will have to ask your own law makers this question. When even most law abiding gun owners and NRA members understand that passing laws will not take away their freedoms, who is influencing our leaders? It's a question that needs to be asked and answered. It is a minority of extremists, represented by the gun industry, who seem to be making the gun laws in our country. This is what we need to fear. It's time for this to change. We must be better than this. Let's get to work.

No sooner had I published this post and I ran into this article from Salon about angry white men and Supremacy. From the article:
On the extreme Right, by contrast, race is a proxy for class. Among the white supremacists, when they speak of race consciousness, defending white people, protesting for equal rights for white people, they actually don’t mean all white people. They don’t mean Wall Street bankers and lawyers, though they are pretty much entirely white and male. They don’t mean white male doctors, or lawyers, or architects, or even engineers. They don’t mean the legions of young white hipster guys, or computer geeks flocking to the Silicon Valley, or the legions of white preppies in their boat shoes and seersucker jackets “interning” at white-shoe law firms in major cities. Not at all. They mean middle-and working-class white people. Race consciousness is actually class consciousness without actually having to “see” class. “Race blindness” leads working-class people to turn right; if they did see class, they’d turn left and make common cause with different races in the same economic class.
That’s certainly what I found among them. Most are in their mid-thirties to early forties, educated at least through high school and often beyond. (The average age of the guys I talked with was thirty-six.) They are the sons of skilled workers in industries like textiles and tobacco, the sons of the owners of small farms, shops, and grocery stores. Buffeted by global political and economic forces, the sons have inherited little of their fathers’ legacies. The family farms have been lost to foreclosure, the small shops squeezed out by Walmarts and malls. These young men face a spiral of downward mobility and economic uncertainty. They complain that they are squeezed between the omnivorous jaws of global capital concentration and a federal bureaucracy that is at best indifferent to their plight and at worst complicit in their demise.
And they’re right. It is the lower middle class—that strata of independent farmers, small shopkeepers, craft and highly skilled workers, and small-scale entrepreneurs—that has been hit hardest by globalization. “Western industry has displaced traditional crafts—female as well as male—and large-scale multinational-controlled agriculture has downgraded the independent farmer to the status of hired hand,” writes journalist Barbara Ehrenreich. This has resulted in massive male displacement—migration, downward mobility. It has been felt the most not by the adult men who were the tradesmen, shopkeepers, and skilled workers, but by their sons, by the young men whose inheritance has been seemingly stolen from them. They feel entitled and deprived—and furious. These angry young men are the foot soldiers of the armies of rage that have sprung up around the world. (...)  
The problem is that the America they love doesn’t happen to be the America in which they live. They love America—but they hate its government. They believe that the government has become so un-American that it has joined in global institutions that undermine and threaten the American way of life. Many fuse critiques of international organizations such as the United Nations with protectionism and neoisolationism, arguing that all internationalisms are part of a larger Zionist conspiracy. Some embrace a grand imperial vision of American (and other Aryan) domination and the final subjugation of “inferior races.”
And this kind of anger does not fit well with guns, in my opinion.


You really can't make this stuff up. It turns out that the now infamous White Supremacist who has attempted to take over the town of Leith, N.D. took a DNA test and the results were revealed live on a T.V. show. The man is 14% Black. From the article:
Well, that's awkward: A white supremacist who made headlines worldwide for plotting to take over a town in North Dakota received the results of a DNA test -- and the results say he's 14% black.
And this all happened while cameras were rolling.
Craig Cobb, 61, who has tried to create a white enclave in tiny Leith, N.D., submitted a DNA sample to the "Trisha Goddard" talk show and got the results back during a recent taping. (...) 
"Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on, just wait a minute," Cobb said. "This is called 'statistical noise.'"
"Sweetheart, you have a little black in you," Goddard said.
"Listen, I'll tell you this, oil and water don't mix!"
"So, hey," Goddard said while raising, and then moved to fist-bump a reticent Cobb, "Bro!" Cobb declined to fist-bump.
Cobb told the Bismarck Tribune on Monday that he doubted the validity of the test and said he planned to take up to three more DNA tests and publish the results.
“I had no idea, or I wouldn’t have gone and done that, and I still don’t believe it,” Cobb told the Tribune. “I’ll find out with real science and get the whole DNA map."
If we didn't know that guys like this can actually cause a lot of problems and even violence, we could just laugh about these insane and ridiculous people. But they are given encouragement and credibility by the right wing of the Republican party. At any rate, they should be laughed right out of town and out of sight. They don't deserve the attention they are receiving. But now that they have it, they will be the worse for it.


  1. "Such hatred and racism should not be tolerated in 2013 America."

    One doesn't have to go back to the civil war to see such race hatred. You just have to go back to the JIm Crow south where southern democrats passed race based laws and also encouraged government supported vigilante groups like the KKK to keep everyone terrified.
    Might I recommend a book titled "Negros With Guns" by Robert Williams. After returning home from duty with the Marines, he encountered this oppression and did something about it. He trained his fellow citizens in the use of firearms and the community banded together to defend each other against raids by the Klan. He was able to acquire the firearms they used by forming a chapter of the NRA.
    He was framed for kidnapping and was forced to flee the country to Canada.

    1. Yes, for sure, Jim Crow laws were a terrible way to disenfranchise people of color. Attempts today to limit people of color, young people and others from voting are alive and well in the form of Voter ID laws all over the country. Thankfully we turned back that attempt in Minnesota. And the rest of your comment is unsubstantiated. I hope you don't go around telling others that what you wrote is true. It is not. Here is an article that gets to the truth of the matter about guns and Black Americans: http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2013/jun/05/harry-alford/nra-founded-fight-kkk-black-leader-says/

      When statements like the one you made are fact checked, they turn out to be wanting. From the article:
      " Harry Alford, the head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, said the National Rifle Association was "founded by religious leaders who wanted to protect freed slaves from the Ku Klux Klan."

      We can’t say whether he was misinformed or intended to mislead. But the NRA itself says the group was formed by Union Civil War veterans to improve soldiers’ marksmanship. And we found no evidence that religious leaders founded the NRA to protect freed slaves from the KKK.

      The claim is not only inaccurate but ridiculous -- Pants on Fire."

    2. And, by the way, Mark, Williams was not kidnapped. He was accused of kidnapping someone. He actually left the country of his own volition and fled to Cuba and then China. When he eventually came back to the U.S. he was arrested. Charges were dropped against him and he died in the U.S. of natural causes in 1996. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_F._Williams

      You should check your facts, Mark.

  2. Rights are rights! I've changed my stance on gay marriage because I realized even if people's choices aren't mine...I should respect their rights. It's also not normal for two men or two women to kiss....it's becoming so because of acceptance. That's also why some people choose to open carry...to show its normal and ok. The only problem is people's perspective. As long as we only care about the rights we want to care about all these issues are a problem.

    1. I really have no idea what you are talking about. But if I do somehow see a point to this comment I will respond back that the last time I checked, people in a gay/lesbian relationship aren't killing anyone with their rights to marry whomever they want to. Guns, on the other hand, and people with guns, do kill people. There is a difference.

    2. People that opposed gay rights have fears of gays being perverts or child molesters. Totally off base of course. Permit to carry owners don't go around shooting people. Those thoughts are off base too. That's not the intent of people carrying guns...it's defensive thoughts. The anti-gun crowd misunderstands gun owners completely. Just like the anti-gay crowd misunderstands gay people.

    3. Oh but they do shoot people- often enough to be of concern actually. http://www.vpc.org/ccwkillers.htm

      Didn't you read the Ohh Shoot blog? There are quite a few nasty incidents reported there involving "law abiding" gun owners and sometimes gun permit holders.

    4. I looked at your link at mass shooters with carry permit. I read a long article about the incident and no mention that he had a carry permit. He was trained partially as a police officer, but no mention of a permit to carry. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/29623587/#.UorJWza9KSM

    5. http://www.newswithviews.com/guest_opinion/guest191.htm

    6. What a ridiculous argument the article you linked makes regarding Jared Loughner- " The VPC claims that because of Arizona’s new law which allows law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns without a permit, “Loughner was able to legally carry his pistol to the Giffords event in his assassination attempt.”"

      Nonsense. Loughner was not prohibited from owning or carrying a gun. The fact that he had intent to kill only happened after he got his gun and his permit. How can someone selling a gun or granting a permit be certain that a person doesn't have an intent to kill someone? This is the epitomy of circular reasoning and total denial of the facts.

    7. Dear Roger- you just need to read a different article and you will find that this man had a permit to carry his guns, except for the automatic ones, of course. " Mr. McLendon was not licensed to carry the automatic weapons but was licensed to carry a pistol, said Chief Frankie Lindsey of the Geneva Police Department." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/us/12alabama.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      I know you don't like the idea that people with permits to carry shoot other people, but they do. The facts are the facts.

  3. Sorry- I responded incorrectly to one part of a comment from Mark, above. He did not say that Williams was himslef kidnapped. Charges were dropped against him, as I mentioned in my reply. He lived in Cuba and China and came back to the U.S. to actually be and advisor on China issues. http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/negroeswithguns/rob.html

    It is still curious to me that the main point of my post has been missed by some of my readers. Picking at small details and bringing in ancillary details is a distraction from the main point.