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.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Unbelievably-yet another mass shooting

You know. It's getting to be a regular thing to be writing another post about another horrific shooting in America. Sadly and tragically, there is always something to write about. This time, the shooting took the life of one TSA agent at LAX airport and injured 7 others. Senseless. From the article:
"Authorities found an anti-government note next to the man who allegedly opened fire at LAX on Friday, according to law enforcement sources.
In the note, Paul Ciancia, 23, expressed “his disappointment with government” and said he had no intent to target or harm people he considered innocent bystanders, one source told The Times.
 The source added that during the attack, Ciancia allegedly asked people if they were TSA employees."
The anti-government sentiment among a subset of Americans is becoming pretty scary. I referred to this in a recent post. The shooter didn't want to kill innocent bystanders but somehow he thought the TSA agents were not innocent? Why TSA agents? And it must be asked again- why an assault type rifle? We know the answer. These guns are designed to kill as many people as possible in a very short time. That appeared to be the intent here. Further, the state of California has banned the sale of these types of weapons and multi-round ammunition. So where the gun came from becomes important to understanding our weak gun laws. People can buy guns in neighboring states where the gun laws are weaker. There are other ways to get them, of course, such as stealing and buying on the illegal market. I will be interested in getting this information.

Where do these shooters get their anti-government hatred? Try right wing extremist and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for just one. All it takes is one or two people who have enough anger, fear and mental illness problems to be encouraged to take their own action against government agents for this to play out in real life. It's scary and serious stuff and needs to be called out before something worse happens.

But I digress. The young man who shot at TSA agents at LAX was suicidal:
The 23-year-old suspect in the Los Angeles International airport shooting had been reportedly suffering some mental anguish in recent days and family members were worried that he may attempt to take his own life, according to details that have begun to emerge.
There seems to be an emerging profile of American mass shooters. They are angry. They have mental illness problems. They are often suicidal. They are often young white males. And they have guns. Where do they get their guns? When family members and friends know that someone like this is angry and suicidal, is there anything that can be done to keep them from getting their hands on guns? Maybe. But we all know that we have a gaping hole in our national system of selling guns that allows for people like this shooter to buy guns with no background checks and buy them in a hurry and as many as they want. Same with ammunition. And not so surprisingly, many of the shooters obtain their guns legally. When just about anyone and everyone is encouraged to buy guns and with our country's weak gun laws, why are we surprised when these shootings keep happening?

It's amazing how much chaos can be caused by one man with an assault rifle in a public place. In my hometown newspaper this morning the headline for this article read: 1 dead, hundreds of flights delayed. Thousands of travelers were affected by this incident. People had to run and hide and fear for their lives. We all know about this all too familiar scene- a man with an assault rifle starts shooting a bunch of people and wrecks havoc and instills fear and terror in everyone in the area. This is terrorism. All it takes is for one or two people with guns to terrorize our country. The DC Sniper shootings is one example of this kind of fear and terror.

And finally, it's worth asking what's going on with the number of loaded guns confiscated by TSA agents at airports is on the increase? The TSA spends a lot of time screening travelers for liquids and other supposed dangerous items in our carry-on luggage and on our bodies. That is because we have experienced potential underwear and shoe bombers on planes and men with box cutters causing national tragedies such as the one on Sept. 11, 2001. But it looks now like the biggest threat, at least to Americans at airports, may be loaded guns. (Thanks to Moms Demand Action for the image, above) From the article:
The TSA screens about 1.8 million passengers every day. The total number of guns seized by the TSA at airports around the country has been on the rise since 2007. The agency seized 1,556 guns in 2012, nearly double the 803 guns confiscated in 2007, according to agency figures.
In 2013, the agency seized 1,343 guns through the end of September, 13 of which were confiscated at LAX. The Los Angeles airport is the sixth busiest in the world based on total passengers (63.7 million in 2012), according to Airports Council International.
Is the next step armed guards at airports? At what cost? More government agents. More guns. Is this the kind of country we want? And isn't it common knowledge to those who fly that loaded guns are prohibited on planes? There's a good reason for that, of course. So what are people thinking? In many incidents, those who have been stopped with guns at airports say they forgot they had a gun in their carry-on bag. Really? I believe that is because so many people now carry loaded guns around, and some cavalierly, that it is inevitable that there will be guns found in people's purses and bags. Take this one at the Minneapolis St. Paul airport where a Police Officer was caught with his loaded gun: 
Sgt. Grant Snyder, known for his work tackling sex-trafficking cases, told officials that he forgot he had his service weapon in his luggage, according to airport spokesman Pat Hogan.
These are things we can't forget.

We do know that the NRA lobbyists would love to have armed citizens at airports and on planes because, you know, a "good guy" with a gun can stop all bad things. Satire works well for this idea so please read this NY Times piece about how this might play out. But this is not funny. The corporate gun lobby has proposed such nonsense. And there are airports that actually do allow loaded guns in the unsecured areas of airports. I wrote about this one once before. The Minneapolis St. Paul airport is one of 7 in the country that allows guns. From the article:
Some gun owners who take their weapons to the airport cite the need for protection. Others carry a gun frequently and say they do not want to be bothered finding a place to stash it if they go to the airport.
Joel Rosenberg, a firearms instructor in Minneapolis, said he regularly carries a gun to the city's airport and has not heard of any problems caused by the policy.
"People who are law-abiding are going to be law-abiding whether they have a .38 snubby on their hip or not," he said.
Some airports that allow the guns say they are trying to accommodate the culture of their patrons.
"We like our guns in Michigan," said Scott Wintner, a spokesman for Detroit Metro Airport.
Similarly, Brian Murnahan, spokesman for the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, said his airport's policy is driven by pragmatism: Texans often carry guns. "While we certainly don't encourage people to bring guns to the airport, we are trying to be reasonable," he said.
Right. This bears repeating: " Joel Rosenberg, a firearms instructor in Minneapolis, said he regularly carries a gun to the city's airport and has not heard of any problems caused by the policy.
"People who are law-abiding are going to be law-abiding whether they have a .38 snubby on their hip or not," he said." Hmmmm. And this- "We like our guns in Michigan." What does that mean? You can like your guns but that doesn't mean you get to carry them wherever you go. I wonder if these policies will change in light of the LAX shooting? We are not safer with gun toting people at airports. There is an idea, promoted by some gun rights activists , that if only a "good guy with a gun" had been there, this would not have happened. It is so rare for a "good guy" with a gun to stop a "bad guy" with a gun that the argument has no credibility. How do we tell the "good guys" from the "bad guys"? There are too many potential problems with the idea that armed citizens should be flying amongst us- like people being squeezed into smaller and smaller seats- like a gun being dropped and firing accidentally in a plane- like the "good guy" falling asleep in his/her seat while an attack is happening, etc. If you don't believe these things can be problems, check out the Ohh Shoot blog.

I would also like to point out that a Minneapolis St. Paul airport worker has stolen guns from the checked luggage of passengers. It's getting more dangerous to travel with guns. Who knows where those stolen guns end up? People do need to check hunting guns, for example, when flying to another place to go hunting. I am not suggesting a solution here but just pointing out some of the facts about guns at airports.

But I digress. We will learn more about Paul Ciancia ( the shooter at LAX) in the coming days. Was he a "good guy" with a gun? Was he a "law abiding" gun owner? One is law abiding until suddenly one isn't.

The most important question to be asked is this: Why aren't our elected leaders doing anything about strengthening our gun laws? You will have to ask yours. I know I have. This great piece gets it about right:
There already is some talk about this event being a "random" one. But it is not. These things are becoming as regular as rain, as predictable as the summer heat. The only thing "random" about it is the shooter. He could be anyone, and that's the point. There are people who spend money making sure that he could be anyone, and there's nothing "random" about how they do that. There is nothing "random" about this country's ludicrous disinclination to regulate its firearms. There is nothing "random" about the millions of dollars that the NRA spends to convince people that they should have the right to carry their assault weapon anywhere they want to carry it, including into an airport terminal, if they so desire. There is nothing "random" about the politicians who truckle and bow to this lucrative monetization of bloody mayhem.
Our politicians have abrogated their responsibility to keep us all safe in our communities. They have ignored a major public safety and health crisis staring them right in the face every day. One does have to wonder what it will take to get them to do something? I guess the shooting of 20 small children at Sandy Hook Elementary School was not enough. I guess the shooting of military members at the Navy Yard right in their own back yard was not enough. I guess Virginia Tech, the Aurora theater shooting, the Sparks, Nevada school shooting, the shooting of one of their own at a Tucson shopping mall, the Omaha shopping mall, the Accent Signage shooting- and on and on and on- were not enough for these leaders who care more about their ratings from the NRA than about the lives of their constituents.

Americans are becoming weary and cynical about all of the shootings. They feel helpless to do anything. When these type of shootings plus the every day carnage people read about in their daily newspapers or hear about on their TV or radio news or on Facebook, etc. become routine, we will have become a nation without a moral compass and without compassion and integrity to do the right thing in the name of the victims of gun violence. We can't let this become our way of life. Shootings happen everywhere and anywhere and we have the power to prevent them. Common sense conversation about guns and gun violence can lead us in the direction of safer communities. Common sense gun laws can prevent some of the shootings and call attention to the fact that we don't have to accept the gun culture that we have. We need politicians with the courage and integrity to stand up and say NO to the corporate gun lobby. We need Americans to demand action from their leaders and candidates. We need a different America where the response to mass shootings and the everyday homicides that take the lives of 32 Americans daily is to do the right thing and pass the right laws to stop the devastation that is becoming far too common in our communities. Lives depend on our getting this right. Enough is enough. Let's get to work.


A gun was accidentally discharged at the Bismarck, N.D. airport. From the article:
The shotgun of a 65-year-old Utah man went off in the Bismarck Airport Thursday afternoon, causing $1,000-2,000 of damage.
Bismarck Police Sgt. Mark Buschena said the man was trying to disarm the gun in order to check it when it went off, hitting the lower corner of the wall.
Considering what happened at LAX, there must have been some frightened folks. People need to be more careful with their guns. Everyone was lucky that no one was injured in this incident.

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