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.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gun Violence Prevention 101

During the week before the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting and right afterwards, the media and others decided to weigh in with their own observations of what the heck is going on with gun violence prevention. Everyone knows that Congress is stuck in their old track concerning this issue. The members have not yet awakened to the growing support for doing something positive to prevent the devastation suffered in communities all over America. If our elected leaders would pay close attention and read some of the great information out in the real world, they would understand that doing nothing is not an option. If they would pay attention to the daily shootings in America, they would know that doing nothing is not an option. If they really understood how our weak and weakened gun laws are contributing to the continued carnage in our communities, they would know that doing nothing is not an option. If they would take the time to learn the truth and listen to the voices of the majority, just maybe things would change.

So let's look at some facts and some fiction. First, of course, is the fact that we have had another shooting that received some, but not a lot, of attention. This time a gunman struck a medical complex attached to a Reno hospital.  Yes, shock and sadness and a lot of tweets. Where's the action? More on this shooting from this article:
The shooting, the latest in a rash of deadly gun violence at public venues in the United States this year, occurred shortly after 2 p.m. at the building adjacent to the Renown Regional Medical Center, Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson said.
Video footage taken by a bystander showed police swarming into the building, though Robinson told a news conference that no shots were fired by law enforcement officers, and that the building had been declared "secure and safe."
A lockdown of the overall medical center was lifted after police gained control of the crime scene, Robinson said.
He said two people died in the shooting, including the gunman, who apparently took his own life with his weapon, and two others were hurt and were "seeking treatment now at a local hospital."
"...the latest in a rash of deadly gun violence at public venues in the United States this year....". It's not like a rash of illness or a rash of snowstorms. It's a rash of deadly gun violence. A doctor was one of the victims. Doctors should be able to treat patients in our nation's hospitals without fear of being shot to death. Good grief. What is wrong with us? Two of my family members are health care providers. I guess no where is safe from guns. Guns everywhere carried by anyone has resulted in gun deaths everywhere. And the stupid and dangerous idea that someone with a gun could have prevented this shooting or other shootings in "gun free zones" is insane. There is no proof of it happening. It's a fiction invented by the corporate gun lobby to sell guns.

And speaking of more guns in more places making people "safer", let's talk a bit about gunshot injuries treated at our nation's hospitals. From this article about Florida emergency rooms: 
It's not armed robbers or warring gangs who send the greatest percentage of gunshot survivors to Florida emergency rooms.
It's people who shoot someone, or themselves, accidentally.
Four out of every 10 people who are rushed to a Florida hospital or emergency room with a nonfatal wound were shot by accident, according to hospital data collected by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and published by the Florida Department of Health.
It's a far bigger problem in Florida than elsewhere — double the national average the past three years — according to numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Orange County, it's even worse: More than half of the people treated for nonfatal gunshot injuries last year were shot accidentally.
So, as I suspected, there seem to be more "accidental" or "unintentional" or avoidable shootings of late. What is going on here? Florida has more guns and weaker gun laws than most states in the country. Florida also has Stand Your Ground and weak conceal and carry laws.  Remember George Zimmerman? Is it a surprise then that more people are shooting themselves or others by mistake? When more guns around, clearly we are not safer. Check out one of my favorite blogs- Ohh Shoot if you want to learn more about accidental gun discharges. There are way too many of them.

But tell that to the gun rights extremists. They want their folks to buy as many guns as possible through the private market so they won't be able to be traced and therefore not be subject to that inevitable gun registration government scheme to confiscate all guns. Further, these guys don't really like any gun laws and are willing to work against any measure that could keep guns away from those who shouldn't have them. Check out this article in Ammoland for this very sound advice to gun owners. From the article:
As a matter of international cooperation, all the information collected by 4473s, bound books, firearms traces, and records of two or more handguns sold within a week to the same person, could all be turned over to say, the Canadian government.    I have no information to indicate that the Canadian government has created a U.S. gun registry, but they are not bound by U.S. law.
Right. I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn if you believe this. But there's more nonsensical "reasoning" in the article:
I have heard from people crossing the Canadian border, that somehow the Canadians knew that they were a gun owner or had a Concealed Carry Weapons permit, and were subject to greater scrutiny than other people.  This is merely hearsay, but it does not sound implausible.  I recall talking to a Canadian government official, at some conference that I was at, where he implied that Canada had access to U.S. federal gun records.  Vague memories such as this prove little.  Perhaps alert readers can add to this woefully inadequate information.
Ah. Now we have the truth. It's hearsay and a vague memory. But why not get readers all ramped up about the Canadian government working with the U.S. government to confiscate all the guns owned by Americans based on vague memories and hearsay? I mean they've managed it in Canada, right? Look at what happened in Canada when strong gun laws are in place?
The year following the introduction of firearms licensing in Canada (1977), saw a continuation of the pre-existing decline in murder involving firearms, relative to other mechanisms.[32] From 1977 to 2003 Canada firearm homicide has declined from 1.15 to 0.5 per 100,000, while other mechanisms declined less significantly (1.85 to 1.23 per 100,000).[32][33] A 2011 study by Dr. Caillin Langmann found no beneficial effect on Canada's homicide or spousal homicide rates as a result of any of Canada's major gun control legislation since 1974, including FAC and PAL licensing, storage laws, the characterization of many types of firearms as prohibited or restricted, magazine restrictions, etc., all of which were enacted in that time period.[34] A January 2011 study by the Universite de Montreal came to the opposite conclusion, finding that Canadian gun control legislation since 1974 resulted in a 5-10 percent drop in firearm homicides.[35]
Currently, shooting and stabbing represent the two most common mechanisms for homicide in Canada, each accounting for approximately 30% of murders.[36]
Overall suicide in Canada peaked in 1978 at 14.5 per 100,000,[37] declining by 22% (11.3 per 100,000) in 2004.[38][39] During this same time period, firearm suicides declined by 55% (1287 individuals to a low of 568) [40] while the number of non-firearm suicides increased by 52% (2,046 in 1977 to 3,116 in 2003).[citation needed] In response to the 2001 registration requirements, some psychiatric doctors have argued that the legislation is not as effective as treatment in the prevention of suicide, given alternate mechanisms are available for suicide.[41]
Accidental death, of any kind, is rare claiming 27.9 people per 100,000 in 2000. Of these, firearms accidents account for 0.3% (0.1 per 100,000), ranking below the 37% for transportation (10.2 per 100,000), 28% for unspecified (7.7 per 100,000), 18% for falls (5.1 per 100,000), and 11% for poisoning (3.1 per 100,000).[42]
Canadians own 9,950,000 guns. Also from the previous link- In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Canada ranked at No. 12. Number of gun deaths in Canada? .5 per 100,000. So let's review. Canadians own a lot of guns. They have strong gun laws. The country experiences few gun deaths of any type. There is licensing and registration. And THERE IS NO CONFISCATION OF GUNS. But according to the linked article, above, from Ammoland, Canada will be coming for American guns any time now so folks should get out there and buy as many guns as possible before it happens.

And then there is this from the writer of the Ammoland article (above):
Over many decades, I have bought and sold hundreds of guns privately.   When I had an FFL for a dozen years, I carefully kept the required records.   One of the reasons that I gave up the FFL was that the record keeping was becoming onerous, and was filled with possibilities for innocently ensnaring yourself in a felony.
This does not require that you eliminate buying guns from dealers.  Far from it.  Someone has to make the initial purchase in order to take the guns from the official market where they are “registered”  and place them into the free market, where they are not.    I have no qualms about selling a gun that I purchased from a dealer as long as it is an occasional sale, rather than a regular event.   Buying or selling a dozen or less guns in a year is unlikely to be construed as operating a business, especially if you do not make any significant money in the process.
Buying and selling a gun should be no more regulated than buying or selling a book, a toaster, a computer, a set of steak knives, or power tools.  Perhaps I should add cooking utensils, such as pressure cookers.
This writer has a lot to learn, as do his readers. Do people actually think that buying guns, designed as deadly weapons to kill people, are the same thing as buying toasters, computers, power tools or pressure cookers? It's time for this guy to go back to school. Hopefully he hasn't taught this false information to very many "students". It sounds like he doesn't think we should have any regulations on the buying or selling of deadly weapons. And one last question, what are these folks going to do with all of their guns once they have bought them from private sellers? They don't like to have to report to anyone if a gun is lost or stolen so let's hope that doesn't happen. And let's hope there are no unintentional gun discharges by children or others who could be vulnerable in the home and shouldn't get their hands on the guns. Do they believe their guns should be safely stored away from children and teens? I'm just asking.

Can we deal with the facts? The facts are that about 90 Americans a day die from gun injuries from homicides, suicides or accidental deaths. That should be stunning to most people and it actually is. Those are the facts that the gun rights extremists don't want to talk about. But those should be what we are talking about- not hearsay and vague memories. Lives depend on our getting this right.

One fact is that guns are now readily available on the Internet with no background check. This new article highlights the problem:
"Nearly one in three gun ads on Armslist are posted by high-volume unlicensed sellers, many of whom are likely “engaged in the business” of selling firearms in violation of federal law. High-volume sellers posted twenty-nine percent of the gun ads listed by private sellers during the period of observation. At that rate, these sellers would transfer 243,800 guns each year."
This is just a small portion of the information contained in this new investigative report by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. And what's in this report should concern anyone who cares about public health and safety in our communities. It's clear evidence that we need to hold "Gun Violence Prevention 101" classes for our legislators, the media and Congress as well as the public. Many Americans don't know about this easy way for gun transactions to happen. And happen they do. Who is buying the guns? We don't know because private sellers don't get background checks on the buyers. It could be felons. It could be someone who is dangerously mentally ill. It could be a domestic abuser or a terrorist. We know that some of these guns are used in shootings and crime. The report lists some of the actual incidents, in fact.

So back to the suggestion that people should get as many guns as possible through private sales. Who is reading that advice? Why would anyone suggest buying a gun without a background check? Do these same folks think it's a good idea for people to board planes without going through TSA security? Would they suggest that their physicians practice medicine without being licensed? Would they suggest that Certified Public Accountants work for our businesses and individuals without being certified? Would they suggest that people drive cars without training or a license to drive? Would they suggest that teachers teach our kids without their state licenses to teach? Would they suggest that just anyone could take our kids on overnight trips for school or church or work in nursery schools without background checks?

So given that the answer to the above questions should be a resounding NO, then what? I suggest the Fareed Zacharia of CNN teach the "Gun Violence 101" class. Here is his "lecture" from a recent CNN report on gun violence in America. From his report:
The question we should really be focused on is not the specific cause of a single shooting, but why there are so many of them in America. To remind you, in recent years there have been around 10,000 gun homicides a year in the United States. According to the United States, in Germany and Canada, there were fewer than 200. In Spain, fewer than 100. In Australia fewer than 50.
America's per capita gun homicide rate in 2009 was 12 times higher than the average of Canada, Germany, Australia and Spain. Does anyone think that we have 12 times as many psychologically troubled people as they do in these countries?
There are other reasons often given for gun violence – popular culture and violent video games in particular. But as this survey across the world should have shown, countries that imbibe much the same gory culture in Europe and Australia have much lower levels of violence. Japan, with its particular fascination with violent video games, is actually stunningly low in gun deaths. So whatever you think of violent video games and movies, they don't seem to be the key cause of gun violence.
And we do have an actual experiment. In the aftermath of its own Newtown-like massacre, Australia changed its gun laws. The result? Homicides and suicides plummeted in the decade that followed. Of course, like all real world problems, the link between guns and violence is a complex issue. But one rarely has so much evidence pointing in the same direction. 
And more from Zacharia's recent report:
As I said, I'm not a lawyer. But listen to someone who was: Warren Burger. He was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for 17 years, a conservative Republican appointed by Richard Nixon. Here's what he said about the Second Amendment:
“This has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. Now just look at those words. There are only three lines to that amendment. A ‘well-regulated militia’ – if the militia, which was going to be the state army, was going to be well regulated, why shouldn't 16 and 17 and 18 or any other age persons be regulated in the use of arms the way an automobile is regulated…someone asked me recently if I was for or against a bill that was pending in Congress calling for five days waiting period, and I said I’m very much against it. It should be 30 days waiting period.”
But let's get away from the legal issues. Here's how I think about it.  One of the most important tasks for a government is to keep its citizens – especially its children – safe, on the streets and in their schools. Every other developed country in the world is able to fulfill this basic mandate. America is not. And the greatest tragedy is that we know how to do it.
We have a gun violence problem in America. It is "the greatest tragedy" that we do nothing about it. And it is also a fraud to believe that we can't. It's just that we won't. We can't go on believing in the "vague memories" and hearsay suggested by the writer of the article in Ammoland in which he implores upon his fellow gun rights extremists to do everything possible to circumvent laws and oppose common sense laws that would save lives. Education is key. Facts matter. If we want to learn about what is actually happening every day in America, just read Joe Nocera's Gun Report. Several times a week, he reports on actual shootings of actual people who had actual families who actually miss them and are devastated by their loss. This is not vague memory or hearsay. This is the truth and we must learn from it. Enough is enough of the fear, paranoia and hyperbole of the corporate gun lobby. Let's get to work and make the change that America deserves.



  1. japete writes:
    "Canadians own a lot of guns. They have strong gun laws. The country experiences few gun deaths of any type. There is licensing and registration. And THERE IS NO CONFISCATION OF GUNS."

    Following the passage of Canada's 1991 gun control law, the Canadian government confiscated millions of guns that had previously been legal.

    Even today, if one allows their firearms permit to expire, the police will show up and confiscate your firearm.

    To claim that there isn't, and hasn't been, confiscation in Canada is blatantly untrue.

  2. I find no credible, neutral source that proves your assertion, Bryan. Do you have one? Any confiscation, if it has happened, has come as a result of a law passed and doesn't come randomly as you guys always love to believe. I found this article describing Canadian gun laws. I found this one. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Canada. In this article there is reference to confiscation if there is reason to believe that a gun or gun owner could be a problem- a domestic abuse situation, or someone whose gun is not registered or the person is not licensed to own the gun as per the law- http://www.guncite.com/journals/dkcgc.html

    There is not wide spread random confiscation of guns in Canada.