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 2, 2013

Lies and shootings on Black Friday in America

I did not shop on Black Friday. It is my custom to stay home and enjoy my family on that day and let others flock to the malls and stores in my area. As is also usual, shootings don't take a holiday over Thanksgiving or any holiday. There were some incidents of gun violence at stores on Black Friday and over the Thanksgiving holiday as well.

Several gun incidents in shopping malls and/or stores were reported in this Huffington Post article:
Among the most violent episodes happened yesterday at a Kohl's in Romeoville, Ill., when an alleged shoplifter dragged a police officer from his car before being shot in the arm by other law enforcement officers present at the scene, The Chicago Tribune reports. In an email sent to The Huffington Post, Kohl's said it was "cooperating with the authorities leading the investigation" into the incident.
A shooting was also reported Thursday night in Las Vegas. Two assailants reportedly attempted to steal a TV from a man who had recently purchased it. After arguing, the man was shot in the leg before the attacker sped off in his car, leaving the TV behind, CBS News 8 reports.
A police officer in Rialto, Calif., was also injured Thursday night when a fight broke out at a local Walmart.
Sigh. This article actually provides video clips of some of the fights that broke out in stores across America. I am thinking that avoiding shopping on Black Friday is the best way to stay safe. And when guns are carried in stores ( or knives as it turns out in several incidents) ordinary fights can become deadly in a hurry. I have an idea- leave your weapons at home while shopping. I have written before about shootings in or outside of stores and shopping malls here, and here and in other posts. Of course, I have written about the gun incidents at Starbucks stores on many occasions but here is just one. And you can always check out the Walmart Shootings blog for much more about gun incidents and actual shootings at Walmart stores all over the country.

But I digress. This one shows how dangerous guns can be to their owners. I write about these incidents a lot. This man unintentionally shot himself outside of a Lowe's store while holstering his gun. Presumably he had the gun inside of his car? At least it didn't discharge in the store. Why do people need guns in or around stores again? Check out the Ohh Shoot blog for more stories like this one.

Two people died and 18 were injured in Chicago over the holiday week-end. Some of these were stabbings but the majority were gun related.

Springfield, Massachusetts had some gun incidents and violence over the holiday week-end as well.

A stun gun was used in a fight in a Philadelphia area mall. How does someone carry a stun gun around with them? It turns out that carrying a stun gun is legal in most states. They are prohibited in Philadelphia. Now we know why.

Also on Black Friday, people bought a lot of guns, presumably. Here is an article about the gun sales on the busiest shopping day of the year:
Gun-buying after Thanksgiving is becoming something of a holiday tradition. In each of the past two years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has reported a record number of calls for background checks for gun purchases on the Friday after Thanksgiving. A flood of 154,873 calls on Black Friday in 2012, nearly three times the daily average that year, caused outages at some of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System's call centers.
The FBI does not track actual firearms purchases, and customers can buy multiple guns at one time, suggesting the total number of weapons sold on Black Friday could be even higher than the number of background-check calls. The bureau has reported 17,238,102 background checks this year through Oct. 31.
It turns out that gun sales have gone down so you can bet that gun sellers will find any way they can to increase sales for the holiday season. I mean, nothing says you love someone more than the gift of a gun. More from the article:
Even as gun ownership per household has decreased over the last four decades, according to data from the research center NORC, that declining popularity hasn't translated to a drop in sales. Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a gun control advocacy group, attributes that trend to aggressive promotion from gun lobbyists looking to capitalize on tragedies like Newtown and other mass shootings.
"The reality is that in America, fewer people are owning more guns," said Watts. "They have to keep marketing to [gun owners] to buy more weapons."
More weapons for personal arsenals? What for? Why do people need to have many guns around in their homes? What are they expecting they will do with these guns? The question needs to be asked and answered.

And further, Larry Pratt suggested that gun owners are nervous? The rest of us should be nervous about the fact that all these folks who believe in the hysterics, fear and paranoia of the corporate gun lobby want more guns.

Though this took place before Black Friday, it's worth mentioning because of the irony. A second amendment advocate and public "gun guy" who owns a restaurant where he encourages gun carrying had guns stolen from his place of business. Some days you can only scratch your head and wonder at the hypocrisy. From the article:
Burglars recently took seven guns from a restaurant in Virginia whose owner has drawn attention for his advocacy of the right to bear arms — and to carry guns into his establishment. (...) 
The restaurant drew attention after Crosswhite began offering a discount to diners for every weapon carried.
A Nov. 20 posting on the restaurant’s Facebook page read: “Today we celebrate the 2nd Amendment! Stop in for Open Carry Wednesday and get 10% off for exercising” the right to bear arms.
Does anyone else think the burglars were very aware that this restaurant could have guns inside? Advertising for gun carrying is a pretty bad idea. Such bravado is not a good idea. Where is common sense? One way guns make it into the illegal market is stealing them. Once they are in the illegal market, there's no telling what will happen with them.

And this one is another sad case of a young child with easy access to guns shooting himself in a New Hampshire home:
A man who lives in the apartment where a 5-year-old shot himself early Saturday morning said the incident was an accident.
Police are investigating reports a child accidentally shot himself early Saturday morning.
Sonday Bishop, 28, gave an exclusive statement to News 9 on Sunday.
Bishop called the boy his son and said the lack of empathy from the public has added "a deeper sadness to an already depressing situation." (...) 
The child was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at the Elliot Hospital after the shooting was reported at 2:30 a.m. at 420 Spruce St., police said.
Police said the injuries were to the child's lower extremity.
Manchester police seized the .22-caliber handgun and said the incident is under investigation.
Good grief. Where is common sense? What in the world was a 5 year old doing up and awake at 2:30 a.m. That is our first clue that the parent(s) of this child were not very responsible. Responsible gun owners should be keeping their guns away from young children. Responsible gun owners don't issue statements with excuses for their own irresponsible behavior. Period. There is no room for mistakes when it comes to guns. As we say on the Kid Shootings blog: Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult.

And then there's the political scene in Colorado which came to a bit of a head right before Thanksgiving. This article explains what sheriffs, yes sheriffs, are up to regarding the gun debate over recently passed gun laws in Colorado. Many of them don't like the new laws or any gun laws, for that matter. These are the people who enforce the laws already on the books, right? From the article:
We'll be the first to admit that rounding up a majority of Colorado county sheriffs–generally conservative elected officials who have been boosted for years by pro-gun groups like the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners–to publicly front the opposition to these new gun safety bills was a brilliant public relations move. In Colorado, the huge difference between elected conservative county sheriffs who opposed the new laws for political reasons and appointed police chiefs who generally supported them for practical reasons was lost on the public. Furthermore, some of these county sheriffs, like Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, are in fact distantly on the fringe of the gun safety debate, standing in opposition to all background checks for gun purchases. It's always been our opinion that if the voting public understood the positions held by many of these elected sheriffs, those badges wouldn't count for nearly as much. (...) 
Democrats need to realize that this misinformation, which they scoffed at among themselves but totally failed to publicly respond to this year, has done enormous political damage. During the legislative debate and especially during the recalls this summer of two Democratic Colorado senators, a strategic decision was made to avoid direct confrontation on the gun safety bills. Given the outright lies being spread about these bills, and the media's failure to accurately report on them, that decision was nothing short of catastrophic.
It isn't just a lecture in hindsight, folks. Beginning in January, Colorado Republicans intend to make Democrats talk about guns every day, and Democrats must be ready. Republicans believe they have found the Achilles' heel of adversaries who have been trouncing them at the polls for a decade in this state. As is often said in politics today, being right is not enough. Democrats will either win this message battle or die by it in 2014.
It's definitely past time for Democrats and others who know that the gun rights fringe is actually lying to step up and challenge the lies. Our democracy and lives depend on it.

Speaking of lies, I need to talk about the ones sent to me by some of my readers over the past few days. For some reason ( could it be the corporate gun lobby's fear based and paranoid rhetoric?) there are people who actually don't believe that there are private sellers at gun shows or on the Internet who sell guns without background checks. These folks, I guess, live in some sort of alternate universe. But the rest of us know the truth. About 40% of gun sales go without background checks. These sales occur at gun shows, flea markets, over the family dinner table, in parking lots and on the Internet. These sales without background checks help to provide guns to the illegal market and who knows what happens to the guns after that? Or they lead directly to the death of innocent people such as the Columbine shooting, the Milwaukee mall shooting and many others. If we could prevent even one of these senseless gun deaths, it is worth requiring background checks on all commercial gun sales at the least.

One of my readers doesn't believe that there sites on the Internet where people can buy guns from private sellers with no background checks. He mistakenly ( or purposely) maintained that all on-line gun sales have to go through federally licensed firearms dealers where the buyer must pick up his gun(s). That was the case with Cho Seung-Hui, the Virginia Tech shooter. In his case, his name should have been on the list of prohibited purchasers because he was adjudicated mentally ill, but it wasn't- a failure of our background check system which is just now being corrected. Unfortunately, it is taking too long for some states to get those names into the system. But had Cho been denied, he must have known, since he was intent on shooting people, that he could get guns from private sellers. Others like him can also get their guns this way.

So I have had to "explain" to these commenters that they are wrong. All they have to do is check out Armslist.com for proof that guns are advertised for sale with no background check asked for. I have also had to explain that there are, indeed, private sellers at gun shows who sell guns to people with no background checks and no questions asked. There are many hidden camera videos showing this to be true as well as people like me who have attended gun shows and found private sellers willing to sell guns with no background checks when asked. Take a look at this one done by CNN:

There are many more of these types of videos showing how easy it is to purchase a gun with no background check. The seller would have no idea to whom he/she is selling these guns. The man in the video could be a domestic abuser or even a felon. But with no ID or no background check, how does the seller know? And now the guns can't be traced should they be used in a crime- or at least not traced easily. There should be no doubt that what I am writing is fact. And please don't send me comments telling me you don't believe what you see in the video. That would be counter productive and disingenuous.

So let's review.

  • In America there are 250 shootings a day, including homicides, suicides and accidental ( unintentional) shootings. Of these, 80 result in death. Of those 80, 32 are due to gun homicides. So for the folks whose stubborn or misinformed refusal to believe in the facts, do they care that we could prevent some of the senseless daily shootings? They should read The Gun Report, written by Joe Nocera of the New York Times. They would find an accounting of the many many gun deaths and injuries all over our country. He has not published the latest week-end report yet. I'm sure it's taking him a long time to list all of the shooting that occurred over the Thanksgiving holiday. 
  • So if the gun rights extremists would read and listen to the sources with the facts, what would they suggest as a solution to our national public health and safety epidemic? I guess it's the simplistic and false claim that we should arm more "good guys". That should fix it, right? So far it hasn't worked out so well. 
  • Guns are available with no background checks at gun shows, on the Internet and other venues. We can stop that by requiring background checks on all commercial gun sales. We have ample evidence that this is a serious problem. It's amazing that some have chosen not to believe it or have continued to be in denial. 
  • And one more thing, I had to tell one of my readers who decided to bring Hitler into the discussion that that was a non-starter. It's a distraction at the least and a total paranoid disillusion of what is actually happening in America. It's also dishonest. And it's not worth the time to argue about it. 
  • Lies and deceptions are getting in the way of common sense. Too many people are dying every day. They are real people with real families who loved them. So why would we not want to prevent more families from being without their loved ones during holidays, like Thanksgiving. For many folks, Black Friday meant the loss of a loved one. For the families of the 20 children and 6 adults, massacred last December 14th, Black Friday was the day after they had empty chairs at the first Thanksgiving without their lost loved one. It was, indeed, a Black Friday for them. And for many others who have lost someone to a bullet in the last year. Enough is enough. It's time to demand action to strengthen our gun laws and prevent lives.

As predicted the Week-end Gun Report by Joe Nocera has now been published. Since Thursday, you can see that there have been a whole lot of Americans affected by gun violence in most states in the country. Sometimes I count up the incidents and the number of states but this report has too many for me to take the time. This is sad but true. And at the end of his reports, Nocera always provides a count for Americans killed in gun violence since December 14, 2012. Here it is:
According to Slate’s gun-death tracker, an estimated 11,099 people have died as a result of gun violence in America since the Newtown massacre on December 14, 2012.

This is stunning. 11,099 people of all ages and from every state have been shot since the Sandy Hook shooting. These are only the ones that Nocera finds in news reports. There are many more. This should be more than enough to get our Congress to act. What will it take anyway? I hope they aren't listening to what the gun rights extremists are telling them because they aren't telling them the truth. We are better than this.

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