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 24, 2013

Will George Zimmerman go away and other gun atrocities

This post was updated after first posted.

One has to ask whether George Zimmerman will ever go away? Haven't we heard enough about his antics to prove that he is a man who represents the worst of the American gun culture? He roamed his neighborhood as a watch person and made many phone calls about suspicious people in the neighborhood. He carried a gun in a Stand Your Ground state, ready to use it. He had a concealed carry permit though there were enough red flags in his past to suggest he was not a good candidate for a permit to carry a loaded gun in public. But then, that doesn't seem to matter in our culture of guns everywhere for anyone. Zimmerman, as we know, was acquitted of the crime of killing Trayvon Martin who was not a threat to him or anyone else. Zimmerman's boldness on the night he killed Trayvon Martin came in part because of the gun he was carrying that night. Guns change everything. But I digress.

I won't go into the litany of things that have transpired since he has been released and free to go about his business. But we do all seem to know about the latest high profile incident. He allegedly threatened his current girlfriend with a gun. According to the linked article:
George Zimmerman was arrested Monday after he cocked and pointed a shotgun at his girlfriend, shattered a glass-top table, then pushed her out of the house and barricaded himself inside after she ordered him to move out, according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office. (...) In addition to the aggravated assault with a weapon, a felony, he's accused of domestic-violence battery and criminal mischief — for breaking the table and damaging other property belonging to Scheibe.
It turns out that he had many guns in his possession. The irony of all of this is that he has already killed someone with a gun but he got his guns and his rights back after the trial. Why? Because that is what the gun rights extremists want. That is how the laws are crafted. This is the case in many states, actually. Some think it's perfectly fine for someone like George Zimmerman to be able to possess and carry lethal weapons around even after that person has already killed someone with a gun. Some would disagree. The current charges against Zimmerman call into question whether this is a good idea or not. But this is a conversation for a different time. Right now, Zimmerman is out on bail and will appear in court again in January. For the time being, this is a "he said, she said" case. Time will tell how this all shakes out. Meanwhile, Zimmerman is banned from his guns and from any contact with his girlfriend. From this linked article:
Zimmerman may not travel outside Florida nor have contact with weapons, ammunition, or Scheibe: “not in person, not by phone, fax, mail, tweet, Facebook—no contact at all,” the judge emphasized. The no-weapons rule, the judge added, is “in part for her safety and in part for your own safety” and is based on the “previous, unreported claim of battery by strangulation.”
In spite of all of the above, George Zimmerman has his defenders. One such person is Frank Taffee who appeared on CNN recently defending Zimmerman. The thing is, this man is a racist and has served his own time in jail. Why would anyone think he is a credible defender of a man like Zimmerman? Often the media seems to get taken in by folks like this because they are either not curious enough or don't take the time to do the proper vetting and research before doing their stories. Such was the case for CBS's 60 Minutes when they did their recent segment about Benghazi and got caught up in the lies.

Dealing with the gun violence issue provokes passion on both sides. We often say things that seem to insult others or accuse others who may take issue with what we say. And that leads to even more volatility and unnecessary vitriol, backing people into their respective corners. It would behoove us all to try to get to the bottom of things before making accusations. It's sometimes difficult to get to the truth about news stories but it's important to report on the facts, at the least. Our democracy depends on telling the truth. It may take time to ferret out the facts in many cases. I found this great article by Detroit Free Press writer Mitch Albom about jumping to conclusions that is a lesson to me and to others, including people on both sides of the emotional and volatile gun issue.

So on to other atrocities in the news. There are so many some days, it's hard to know which to choose. But this one got my attention. A man in the home of a day care provider dropped his gun and the gun discharged, killing his friend:
San Diego police are investigating the shooting of a man inside a Clairemont home used as a daycare.
Michael Nugent, 21, died from a chest wound he suffered when his best friend’s gun dropped to the ground and fired, officials said.
San Diego police officers were called to the home on Gallatin Way around 1 a.m. Sunday.
Sharon Orr owns the home and the daycare and described Nugent as a longtime family friend.
“We are devastated,” Orr said.
Orr’s son was with his friend when the gun fired. (...) 
Investigators confiscated several firearms from the home. During the week, the Orr Family Daycare operates out of the home.
Orr said the guns were registered and kept far from the children who she supervised in the at-home daycare.
“The guns were in a $600 safe upstairs. The guns were never out of the safe during daycare hours and the children didn’t go upstairs,” she said.
About her daycare, Orr said, “been doing this for 27 years, it’s my life” and then began crying.
First of all, nothing much good comes from handling guns at 1:00 a.m. Second of all, guns are not a good idea in the home of daycare providers. These were locked up but when others in the home have access to the gun safe, if that is what happened here, unintentional and avoidable incidents can turn deadly. What if this had happened at 9:00 a.m. when the children were in the home?

Speaking of avoidable, let's talk about how many people "forget" that they have loaded guns in their carry-on bags while going through airport security. More people are carrying guns around with them wherever they go. Even elected leaders, who should know better, inconveniently "forget" their guns like this Texas legislator did:
Texas State Rep. Drew Darby is facing a felony charge after he attempted to take a weapon through a security screening at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport this month, according to court documents.
Darby was shown as booked into Travis County Jail at 7:22 a.m. on Nov. 14 after he was found to be carrying a .38 caliber Ruger and six rounds of ammunition in a magazine during the security screening that morning, the affidavit said.
The Associated Press reported Friday that Darby issued a statement saying he regretted the Nov. 14 incident. He faces a felony charge for taking a weapon into a prohibited area, according to an arrest affidavit.
Where else might this legislator have forgotten his gun? Who might have looked in his carry-on bag? Guns are dangerous. If a gun is forgotten or found by someone who shouldn't have it, bad things can and do happen. It's not just me who is thinking the problem of guns found in carry-ons at TSA security checks has increased. From the linked New York Times article:
In fact, the T.S.A. says the number of guns found at airport security checkpoints has been steadily rising for the last couple of years. Through Friday, 1,105 guns have been found this year, a pace that is higher than last year’s. In 2011, the total was 1,320, up from 1,123 in 2010, the agency says.
Security experts attribute the increase to two factors: a rise in gun sales and the sharp growth of so-called right-to-carry laws across the country that significantly relax regulations on carrying guns in many areas of public life, from colleges to hospitals.
Invariably, according to the T.S.A., travelers at airports with guns in their carry-on bags say they simply forgot they had them. “It’s almost always inadvertent rather than intentional,” said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the agency
Like other professionals in security, law enforcement and firearms safety, Mr. Castelveter was baffled by how anyone could forget that they were carrying a gun. “I’m a Vietnam vet, and when I went through training I was taught that my gun was my best friend — and God forbid you should ever lose sight of that fact. I would never, ever not know that I have a gun in my bag.”
And last, I would like to talk about the increase in threats to President Obama made by gun rights extremists. This is alarming. My friend at New Trajectory has written a blog post about this. From his post:
But if they can’t assassinate him in Dallas, there’s always armed revolt.  In the extremist vision that they daydream about, a million gun owners will rally to the White House and call for Obama to come out and surrender himself to them in a “citizen’s grand jury.” They even set a date:  November 19.  Of course, the date came and went and nothing happened. Fringe groups like these are fringe precisely because they don’t have a following, but that doesn’t keep them from being dangerous.  In most countries, it would be illegal to make such threats of treason.
Speaking of extremists making threats against President Obama, there is recent news about people being arrested for making such threats. This Connecticut man was arrested for sending messages to the White House with threats. A Wisconsin 81 year old man was also arrested for making threats against the President. From this article:
During their investigation, federal authorities learned that Fossedal’s wife of 57 years died recently, and investigators believed Fossedal “was replacing his grief of her loss with anger.” The investigation also revealed that Fossedal “is proficient in the use of various firearms,” according to the affidavit.
Where do these people get their anger and their ideas? Let's look at more from the linked article:
According to the Smoking Gun, the 81-year-old may subscribe to the “birther” movement idea that Obama was not born in the U.S. The website also found that Fossedal is a fan of conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who urged that Obama be impeached over the Affordable Care Act. 
Right. No comment necessary.

Also today please remember the senseless shooting of a Florida teen-ager by a concealed carry permit holder. The gun permit holder didn't like the loud music coming from the car where some teens ( all young black boys- the shooter is white-were sitting minding their own business and unarmed as well. So he shot into the car, killing Jordan Davis on Nov. 23, 2012. Will the shooter, Michael Dunn, use the Florida Stand Your Ground law as a defense? I guess playing loud music in a car while Black is threatening to some just as walking in a Florida neighborhood while Black and unarmed was a threat to George Zimmerman. I'm just saying.

So let's review. George Zimmerman is in trouble again. For the time being he is not supposed to have guns. Time will tell if he gets them back again. Clearly this is a man who has problems and should NOT have guns. CNN interviewed Zimmerman's friend and spokesperson as if he has any credibility. Elected leaders and others continue to try to take loaded guns in their carry-on bags through security check points. There have been increased incidents of such "forgotten" guns. There has been an increase in the threats against President Obama and some are being arrested, thank goodness. Some of these folks listen to the paranoid and fear-laced rants of right wing media. Who knows where these threats will end? And gun permit holders, like George Zimmerman and the man who shot Jordan Davis, feel empowered and entitled to kill someone when laws allow shooting first and asking questions later. And finally, stupid and dangerous gun owners keep causing avoidable gun deaths when "mishandling" their guns or being careless with a deadly weapon. Guns in the home are risky. Guns can change ordinary exchanges between human beings into tragedies.

Where is common sense? If you think this is the America you want and deserve, then you are among the minority. Some of this is preventable. We can do better than this and we know we can make the changes we deserve. Gun deaths are devastating our communities every day. Enough is enough. Let's get to work. Ask your elected leaders to sign on to legislation that can save lives. We should be making our gun laws stronger rather than weaken them in order to save lives.

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