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, November 19, 2013

Physicians beware- you could get shot

This is frightening. A prominent Minnesota doctor was shot and killed by the son of a patient. From the article:
"The 30-year-old lawyer suspected of killing prominent Orono physician Dr. Stephen Larson had expressed hostility toward Larson because of how he believed the doctor had treated his mother in an undisclosed medical situation, police said Monday.
Ted C. Hoffstrom of St. Anthony, confronted Orono police outside the 74-year-old OB-GYN doctor’s home with a semiautomatic handgun Friday night. “Diligent attempts to negotiate” with Hoffstrom failed and he was shot and killed, authorities said. Larson was then found dead inside the house, shot with the gun Hoffstrom had wielded, ballistics tests would show.
“This is a tragedy of epic proportions for both families involved, as well as the community of Orono,” Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said Monday afternoon at a news conference in Minneapolis."
Yes, tragedy of epic proportions. It always is. The tragedy affects the families of both men and no one will ever be the same. I know that from personal experience.

I want to talk about the culture we have created in our states ever since the corporate gun lobby has pushed for weaker gun laws ( shall issue conceal and carry laws and Stand Your Ground laws among a few). When just about anyone and everyone thinks they should and can buy a gun and get a permit to carry ( we don't know that about this killer) then we have a lot of people in our communities with guns at the ready, apparently. So when someone comes unhinged about some perceived or even real slight towards either themselves or a family member, a gun just may be the answer. I know that from personal experience.

Guns are dangerous. They are designed to kill another human being. And that is what is happening every day in America. These 2 deaths are now part of the record. 32 Americans a day die from gun homicides. In the case of this shooter, his death is likely listed as police action rather than homicide. When it happens in your community though, it is not just a number. It's a real person who many people knew and loved. The victim has a face and a name and has many family members who are now grieving a senseless loss of life. And the community grieves. The circle of grief becomes wide after a gun death. More from the article:
The clinics in Edina and Burnsville had a steady stream of patients and well-wishers stopping by on Monday. “Today has been amazing,” Kamin said. “Our patients were bringing in flowers and baked goods and cards and really sharing their sympathy with us.”
What if Larson had been your doctor? What if this happened to your own physician or health care provider? People have genuine close relationships with their physicians. I would be very devastated by an untimely death of my physician, such as that of Dr. Larson.

Another article connects Dr. Larson to the shooter's birth 30 years ago:
Sources tell WCCO-TV that Larson, a 74-year-old OBGYN doctor, delivered Hoffstrom, who was born prematurely and suffered from mental and physical ailments. Hoffstrom allegedly blamed those issues on the delivery. Hoffstrom was believed to have long harbored hostility towards Larson.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said Hoffstrom had recently been vocal in expressing those hostilities. Stanek would not say, however, if Larson was aware of those feelings.
Since Dr. Larson was an Obstetrician, he may not have asked the question that primary care physicians and health care providers ask patients at every visit: " Do you feel unsafe in your home?" I would imagine that the physician doesn't answer that question for him or herself. They spend a lot of time trying to keep patients healthy and safe and preventing illness and injury. Remember that the NRA lobbyists pushed for and got a law passed in Florida to prevent doctors from talking to patients about the risks of guns in the home. Luckily, that affront to the ability of doctors and other health care providers to practice their profession has been turned away by the court system ( see linked article). I have 2 family members in the Health Care profession. This is of great concern and should be to health care providers everywhere.

In Minnesota, hospitals and clinics can post signs banning guns inside of their facilities according to the Minnesota Personal Protection Act. One of my readers once told me that that wouldn't prevent him from carrying his gun into a hospital if he so chose. Whatever. So why would someone want or need a gun in a hospital or clinic? The above story should illustrate for us exactly why. When people who own guns get angry enough to carry out a lethal act with that gun because they are upset about the way a doctor has treated a relative or him or herself, who knows where they may decide to exact revenge? In this case, this shooter found out where the physician lived and shot him in his home as he was talking on the phone with someone. Had he not been talking on the phone to someone who heard the disruption and called 911, this shooter would have gotten away with murder for at least a while until police may or may not have found the killer.

And speaking of shootings of physicians and at hospitals and clinics, there has been a rise in shootings in hospitals according to this John Hopkins University study. From the article:
According to a Johns Hopkins study published last year, there were 91 shootings inside U.S. hospitals between 2000 and 2011, typically in emergency departments. Another 63 shootings took place outside on hospital grounds. In response, hospitals are working to prepare their staff for potential gun violence at the workplace — essentially, training them about how to survive a shooting and how to best disarm a shooter.
“It used to be hospitals were kinds of ‘hands off.’ Those kinds of things didn’t happen,” Caryn Thornburg, an emergency preparedness expert who is currently working with the California Hospital Association to conduct those kind of trainings, said in reference to hospital shootings. But that’s not the case anymore. Thornbug believes the economic downturn, drug and alcohol abuse, and the rise of concealed carry laws have all contributed to a the current environment in which hospitals have become targets.
According to the Johns Hopkins study, the rate of assaults on hospital employees is 8 in 10,000, compared with 2 in 10,000 for other employees in the private sector. And that doesn’t include patients. Just this week, a patient waiting to receive treatment in a Pennsylvania hospital was struck by a stray bullet.
Right in my own area, there was an awful domestic shooting in the parking lot of an area hospital:
On March 20, 2007, the unthinkable happened. Shelby Kittelson, a mother of two, was shot in the head in the parking lot of St. Mary’s Hospital-Superior.
The man who shot her, her estranged husband, David Adolphson, ended his own life later that day. Despite a restraining order, despite a pattern developing in law enforcement reports, the shots were fired.
“We should have seen this coming,” said Superior’s Assistant Police Chief Charles LaGesse.
Kittelson was the victim of a domestic shooting at her workplace. The man should not have had a gun in the first place and yes, someone should have seen it coming. There are just some people who should not have guns This man was one of them. He knew where his wife worked- a hospital- and waited for her in the parking lot. Senseless. People should be free from gun violence at their place of work, on the streets and in their own homes. But I digress.

And further, of course, hospitals and health care providers are impacted by the daily shootings because the victims come to emergency rooms and either die there or are treated for their injuries. This is often traumatic for the health care providers as well as the victims and their families.

It's definitely time to change the conversation about guns and gun violence in our country. The shootings keep coming and we do nothing. This is simply not OK. I believe that we will continue on this path of senseless violence until we decide to stand up together and speak out about the lack of common sense when it comes to gun laws and gun deaths.


  1. "Despite a restraining order, despite a pattern developing in law enforcement reports, the shots were fired.
    “We should have seen this coming,” said Superior’s Assistant Police Chief Charles LaGesse."

    Why we consider a restrianing order as something akin to a magic shield against spousal violence is something I am not able to understand. Despite these pieces of paper, women and children are beaten to death, stabbed to death, run over and shot. The failure was the lack of the courts to recognize the danger Alphonsom was to his estranged wife which led to his felony murder of her. And if he obtained the firearm legally or was known to have one, how much was done to confiscate it until he was (if ever) no longer considered a danger to himself or others?

    To assume that no harm will come or the danger lessened to women or children in life and limb threatening relationships once guns are removed from society is not only naive but ignoring the weaknesses in our laws that do little to protect the endangered.

    1. So you believe his gun should have been confiscated? That's interesting. It's difficult to get that to happen. Judges don't always do it out of fear of anything like "confiscation" which your side fights against fiercely. Further, law enforcement doesn't have a place to store the guns confiscated and often end up giving them to family members to store. If they store the guns, they have to keep them in working order upon their return which often happens after the Restraining order or OFP is expired. Women are often more afraid to file an OFP out of fear that the abuser will get even angrier. This is complicated stuff.

  2. In cases where the gunowner has given a reasonble belief to a court of law as based on criminal activity or stated intent of harm that displays his possible danger of life or limb to others, absolutely!

    Thsi is not a IIA issue, but a issue wherein the life of others must be of great concern. In much the same way that we jail those who have proven themselves unable or unwilling to obey the law and not drive when thier DL has been suspended due to DUI.

    I cannot speak for others, but when individual confsication occurs after due process of law, I can most readily agree to the tempoary or permanent denial of a firearm.

    There are no "sides" here. The prevention of death due to firearms or other means is something that concerns all citizens.

    1. That is what I'm always about- prevention of death due to firearms. There should be no sides on the issue. It's why I do what I do. I have lost a sister to a gun homicide. I'm all about preventing others from the same fate.