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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Gun photos and guns on social media

from: http://larrybrownsports.com/
In my last post, I hoped that people were enjoying their Christmas presents if they got them. It turns out, of course, that guns are popular gifts. Not being into guns like that, I have a hard time thinking about a gun as a gift. My experience with guns is that of hunting and then losing a loved one to a bullet. So the idea that someone would be really happy about getting a gun for Christmas just doesn't fit with my idea of a merry time. But of course, there are many people for whom getting a gun is the ultimate gift. A hunting gun is one thing. If you are into hunting, getting a gun to use for that purpose is likely a good gift. But if the gun is meant for something else, like shooting a person, then the idea of a gun as a gift is a bad one, in my opinion. Guns are dangerous. They are one of the few, if only, products on the market designed to kill a person or animal. That's why I was both fascinated and concerned about some of the photos that have shown up on social media showing people displaying their new guns or showing children ( and babies) surrounded by guns.

This article with photos caught my eye. The article contains photos of people who got guns for Christmas. Take a look at who got guns and what they said about the guns in their posts. Some quotes from the article linked above that accompany the photos:
Caption: “Papa Steve with his new home security system..Merry Christmas ya filthy animal #ar15 #spikestactical #yankeehillmfgFollow” (...)  
Caption: “Santa knew what was up this year! #AR15 #EOTech #youllshootyoureyeout #HiObama #MerryChristmas #merica” (...)  
Merry Christmas #2A #NRA #Christmas #PJNET #ORPUW #tgdn #tcot #ccot #teaparty #RedNationRising #ocra #OpSlam #AR15 (...)  
Caption: “My type of Christmas #Ar15 #Family #Christmas” (...)  
Caption: “Santa brought me a chopper #thankssanta #igotachopperinthesleigh #choppersforchristmas #AR15 #2ndamendmentswag #mossburg”
I did have to look up the term "chopper" as used by the very young man who is shown displaying a really scary looking gun that is surely not meant for average citizens. Here is what I found at Urban Dictionary (spelling and word usage not mine):
1.Chopper- "Chopper City" is another name for the AK-47 assault rifle". What B.G. Meant there is A Chopper is an AK-47 assault rifle.  (...) 
a fully automatic weapon that chops through the streets fuckin up what ever it can hit.
What did you shoot the place up with? Did with a chopper/choppa
Really? Is this what this young man thinks of his Christmas gift? Will he now go out and "chop through the streets....... what ever it can hit"? Who does that? School shooters maybe? Maybe Al Capone in the days when the gangsters were running around the streets of America shooting up innocent and not so innocent people?

A photo has been going around on Facebook and Twitter feeds of a baby innocently sleeping with a gun in its' hands and surrounded by a lot of guns of various types.  (photo shown above) A sports blogger named Larry Brown commented on the photo ( from the link above):
A Twitter user sent the photo you see above to Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage earlier this week. As you can see, the newborn baby is actually holding a handgun. Travis later shared a zoomed-out version of the picture, which does an even better job of highlighting how disturbing it is.
Someone thought it would be cute, I guess, to post this. At this point, it is not clear who posted it but most people find it to be beyond common decency and void of common sense. What kind of message does this send? Not a good one. Why take photos like this? Why do some gun owners think that guns and kids go together and then put them together in a photo that goes viral on social media? We have enough examples of children shot in "accidental" and intentional shootings. Check out Kid Shootings or Joe Nocera's Gun Report or Ohh Shoot for more. And take a look at my last post. A 2 month old baby was "accidentally" shot and killed in her own home by what appears to be an irresponsible Pennsylvania "law abiding" gun owner.  This is not the first time a young baby has been shot. In Minneapolis last fall, a 2 month old baby was shot by a stray bullet while held by its' father outside of the home. 

But back to photos, some new information has been released about the Sandy Hook shooting including some photos taken by law enforcement as evidence. So here is proof that Nancy Lanza owned a certificate of completion for an NRA shooting class. The NRA does not like to believe that the mother of the shooter of the country's most heinous shooting had anything to do with their organization. But the NRA dominates the gun training classes in our country and does train thousands of people every year to shoot their guns. That's fine but it would be good to know more about these classes. What is taught. How is it taught? What is said about safety? This is a mother who was trained to shoot her own guns, of which she apparently had many. And her flawed reasoning that her son should be exposed to these guns and learn to shoot them even though he had clear mental and educational disabilities turned out to be a very tragic mistake. After the Sandy Hook shooting the NRA famously suggested that it would sponsor gun training classes to teachers, wrongly and cynically claiming that our schools would be safer if only teachers were armed. And of course, the NRA would benefit financially because more teachers would have to go out and buy guns for this purpose. Great idea if you are in the gun industry which is inextricably linked to the NRA. But I digress.

And then there's South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley bragging about getting a handgun for Christmas. Really? From this article:
The Palmetto State CEO posted a picture Thursday of the 9 mm Beretta handgun she received from her husband on her Facebook account, which generated a lot of post-holiday buzz.
“Our family had a wonderful Christmas together!” the Lexington Republican wrote. “I must have been good(.) Santa gave me a Beretta Px4 Storm.”
The Facebook post received nearly 15,000 likes and 1,700 comments in less than 10 hours. Social media burst with mini-debates about guns, though a majority of the comments approved Haley’s gift. (...) 
Haley holds a concealed-weapons permit and a lifetime “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. Her husband, Michael, returned recently from a year-long military deployment to Afghanistan.
Plus, the governor fired off machine-gun rounds at a Columbia arms maker this summer in a video sent out by her office that went viral.
Haley’s sharing her love for firearms is a way of demonstrating the state’s gun friendliness to manufacturers, Citadel political scientist Scott Buchanan said. South Carolina is wooing arms makers from states with stricter gun laws. Beretta operates a plant in Maryland.
But the gun show also could help lure voters in her rematch against Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen next year.
The idea that elected officials need to show their love of guns or hunting in campaign photos in order to be elected is ridiculous and sends a false message about the role of guns in America. And if politicians think that cozying up to the NRA gun lobby will get them elected they should rethink. From this article:
It should come as no surprise that the NRA's preferred candidate lost, except to media who endorse the myth of NRA electoral dominance and who continue to insist that the gun rights group can use spending, endorsements, and get-out-the-vote efforts to determine the outcome of elections. This theory, however, is contradicted by an analysis of actual elections.
A regression analysis of U.S. House races for the 2004 through 2010 election cycles by The American Prospect's Paul Waldman found that NRA endorsements and spending had almost no impact on congressional election outcomes.
The NRA's ineffectual spending was in display during the 2012 federal elections where the group spent more than $100,000 on seven Senate races, backing the losing candidate in six instances. Of $18 million spent on all federal elections in 2012, including $12 million spent against President Obama, more than 95 percent was spent on races where the NRA-favored candidate lost.
The message here is: avoid those photos of yourself shooting a gun. They just don't work and they send the wrong message to a country where gun deaths and injuries total 100,000 a year while politicians do nothing to change the carnage. Take the opposite approach- the common sense approach. Rather than boasting about guns and making ridiculous remarks about what one intends to do with the guns, we should be paying constant attention to what is actually happening in our country. We can mention it in public places where the public is paying attention- like at sporting events or other public events for example. I ran across this opinion piece about the possibility that the sports world could change the conversation about gun violence prevention. And why shouldn't they? From the article:
In the corporate-sponsored sports world, professional athletes rarely protest anything beyond an official’s call. Doing so is the fastest way to lose endorsements or one’s career. But many athletes also have families. They are mothers and fathers who can sympathize.
Imagine if the Boston Red Sox had walked off the field during the final game of the World Series, demanding that the country act to protect its children from school shootings.
Imagine if the student-athletes in next month’s major-college football championship were to release a pregame statement in protest: “For the children of Sandy Hook, the students of Columbine, our friends at Virginia Tech, we will not play this game.”
Yes, imagine.
Is the best we can do to hope that a rogue announcer might say: “Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and remove your caps. Ask yourselves if our country has taken any action since our last moment of silence for a school massacre, and join in the singing of our national anthem”?
A year has passed since 20 children, and others, were killed at Sandy Hook. Efforts to change national gun safety laws have failed. There have been shootings at middle schools, high schools and colleges.
When will we, as a nation, learn from our inaction? When will we do more than hold a moment of silence for a slaughter that might have been prevented?
When indeed. Sports figures have had plenty of their own problems with gun violence and need to address it in their own way. They have an opportunity to use their influence to make changes in America. So do other influential people. Will they?

Photos and images are often more powerful than words. Images of babies and small children with guns are jarring to the public and send the wrong message. It is simply not OK, given the shooting tragedies in communities all over America involving children, to engage in the promotion of kids with guns. Children should be safe in their homes and in their schools from the devastation of gun violence. Guns in homes, like the ones displayed by those who received them for Christmas, involve more risk than benefit. The truth of the matter is that a gun in the home is many more times likely to be used to shoot someone in the home than for self defense.

I suggest that we start the new year with different images than those I have linked to above. We surely don't need more images of little children massacred in their schools. We don't need more images of frantic parents rushing to a school hoping their child was not one of the dead. We don't need more images of high school students walking out of their school with hands raised in the air as they leave the scene of a school shooting. We don't images on the front pages of our newspapers and in news reports of another woman shot to death by an angry husband or partner in a domestic shooting. We don't need more images of a smiling child next to an article about how that child is now dead because he/she found an unsecured gun and used it to shoot him/herself or someone else. These are the images that are unique to America. We need to change these images and prevent the shootings that accompany the news stories showing the images.

The message is and should be that we can do something to prevent the violence that devastates our families and our communities. We can support legislation to expand background checks to all commercial gun sales. We can do more to prevent illegal gun trafficking. We can make sure that guns in homes are locked and unloaded, safe from those who shouldn't have them. Check out the Center to Prevent Youth Violence for more about this. We can support public health and safety efforts to get people to understand that guns in the home are risky and need to be stored safely. We can educate the public about the fact that our gun laws are woefully inadequate to stop someone who shouldn't have a gun from getting one anyway. We can't remain ignorant about things like this. Lives depend on our knowing the facts.

We aren't doing enough to prevent senseless shootings. Congress did nothing in 2013 to make us all safer from gun violence after the Sandy Hook school shooting. Surely we are better than this. 2014 can be a year of awakening and action about gun reform if we choose to make it so. Let's get to work to make sure it is.


One of my readers has corrected my mistake in saying the baby in the photo was surrounded by assault type guns. They were not all of that type, some being common hunting guns. So I wrote by mistake that the guns were assault rifles. I have corrected this mistake. What is more concerning is that these same folks who caught my mistake were not a bit concerned about the photo showing a baby surrounded by guns of any kind. We should be talking about the overriding issue of exposing small children to guns. That was my purpose in writing this blog post and other posts on the same topic.


  1. Guns are here today and there isn't enough support to change that. If you're really serious about gun safety then support teaching it in schools. Drivers ed made a difference didn't it?

    1. Drivers Education is not taught through the schools- at least in Minnesota it isn't. So gun safety can be taught outside of school for those who decide they want to hunt or maybe own guns. The percentage of people who own and drive cars is much higher than those who own guns. According to this article, 95% of Americans own cars http://photos.state.gov/libraries/cambodia/30486/Publications/everyone_in_america_own_a_car.pdf
      That number is going down however.

      The number of Americans who own guns is also decreasing though there are almost as many guns as people. Those who own guns own more of them. About 35% of households own guns- a decreased number over the past few decades. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/us/rate-of-gun-ownership-is-down-survey-shows.html?_r=0

      So it would seem pretty important to teach folks how to drive. And guess what-it's also against the law to drive without a license so it is mandated to learn how to drive before getting behind the wheel. Perhaps the same should be true for guns, If you want to own one, you must take a course on how to use the weapon you have decided to own. Perhaps gun owners would be more responsible with their guns. In some states, gun deaths are now ahead of car accident deaths. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/29/1212375/-Most-recent-data-Gun-deaths-outpaced-auto-deaths-in-12-states

    2. Including suicide as a gun death is mis-leading in your dailykos.com article.
      Other surveys put households with guns at more like 47-55%, so you are quoting the low end at best.
      Also, most gun owners will not answer survey questions by un-trusted sources. Just as you probably would not give you social security number to a person calling on the phone without some proof as to the use of that information.

    3. I am not sure to what dailykos.com article you are referring. The survey mentioned in the NYTimes article and others like it refer to a survey that has been every 2 years over many years' time. I guess you then must think that gun owners have been lying since the 1960s about gun ownership. This is a survey that has been done by the same group for over 40 years now. I would say that the information they collect is pretty accurate. If they ask the same question over time and get the results shown in the survey results, it's pretty good evidence that they are getting a good picture of gun ownership in the U.S. over time. Here is another article. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/11/has-the-rate-of-gun-ownership-in-american-homes-really-decreased-this-dramatically/
      So even if gun owners have not been saying whether they own guns, we can say that they said that in 1970 which means there were even more gun owners than we thought. There is a trend here. That is the point that you are not getting. The trend is downward in gun ownership. That is why the corporate gun lobby is so intent on passing laws that will lead to people going out to buy more guns. That is why the changing of assault weapons from the term even used by the gun industry when the guns first became available for private citizens to "common hunting rifles". It is to get people to go out and buy an expensive gun, ordinarily used during war time, for hunting. The thing is, they don't use them for hunting. We all know they don't work for hunting large animals or birds. It is a cynical ploy to increase the market for guns.