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.
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Myths about guns in public and other things

When does it stop? How many more of these will it take before we wake up? Can you decide to shoot someone for not getting upset about a football team losing? Who does that? Well, I guess we do this in America. Only in America where guns are carried around everywhere does a moment of anger or whatever the shooter was feeling at the time she senselessly shot another woman over a football game outcome, does this happen. From the article:
"A woman charged with killing a fellow Alabama fan after the end of last weekend's Iron Bowl football game was angry that the victim and others didn't seem upset over the Crimson Tide's loss to archrival Auburn, said the sister of the slain woman.Adrian Laroze Briskey, 28, was charged Monday with murder in the killing of 36-year-old Michelle Shepherd."
Senseless. Avoidable.

Without a gun available, no death- maybe an argument or a fight but even that would have been ridiculous given the circumstances.

I guess I'm not the only one to think this is just too much. An American Lieutenant Colonel has spoken out in frustration after hearing about the above incident.
We crossed the line some time ago, it has just taken me a while to get around to the topic. Sadly, that topic is now so brutally evident that I feel shame. Shame that I have not spoken out about before now -- shame for my country, shame that we have come to this point. One story tripped me.
A woman charged with killing a fellow Alabama fan after the end of last weekend's Iron Bowl football game was angry that the victim and others didn't seem upset over the Crimson Tide's loss to archrival Auburn, said the sister of the slain woman.
People, it is time to talk about guns.
After taking on the Supreme Courts' Heller Decision, Lt. Bateman goes on to offer some common sense solutions of his own:
Guns are tools. I use these tools in my job. But like all tools one must be trained and educated in their use. Weapons are there for the "well regulated militia." Their use, therefore, must be in defense of the nation. Shooting and killing somebody because they were not "upset enough" over the loss of a college football team should not be possible in our great nation. Which is why I am adding the following "Gun Plank" to the Bateman-Pierce platform. Here are some suggestions:
1. The only guns permitted will be the following:
  • a. Smoothbore or Rifled muzzle-loading blackpowder muskets. No 7-11 in history has ever been held up with one of these.
  • b. Double-barrel breech-loading shotguns. Hunting with these is valid.
  • c. Bolt-action rifles with a magazine capacity no greater than five rounds. Like I said, hunting is valid. But if you cannot bring down a defenseless deer in under five rounds, then you have no fking reason to be holding a killing tool in the first place.
Interesting and he will be very unpopular amongst the gun rights crowd. I'll let you read the other suggested solutions yourself. This man is a military member and a "law abiding" gun owner who is squarely with the majority of Americans who believe it's time to change our gun laws and our gun culture. Thank you to him for writing his column. He, like so many of us, is tired of the senseless shootings and the daily carnage due to bullets.

The Sandy Hook shooting was one of those senseless and avoidable shootings that we will be memorializing on December 14th. When people are going about their daily lives, unarmed and just working, living, learning, driving, walking, sitting in a car, sitting in a coffee shop, shopping, at home, at school, and anywhere where people hang out, they shouldn't be shot. But shot they are. Why? Because in America we have a unique gun culture that has evolved into something not seen anywhere else in countries not at war. And not because the victims weren't armed while going about their business.

We live in a nation at peace where a total of 250 a day are shot by bullets and about 80 of these die from their injuries. We have a nation at peace where guns are easily accessible to anyone who wants them. Gun regulations are few and far between. Though the U.S. House just did the unthinkable in voting in a voice vote to extend the ban on plastic guns. God forbid if they hadn't. This was a no-brainer kind of vote. But, of course, given the almost total avoidance of our Congress to responsible solutions to our public health and safety gun violence epidemic, one wouldn't have been surprised to see this ban lapse. The gun lobby, of course, didn't want them to deal with the 3-D gun making capability:
Gun rights groups are divided on whether to even extend the current law. While National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told The Huffington Post that the group doesn't have a problem with the House bill, since it is "simply reauthorizing current law," Michael Hammond, legal counsel for the Gun Owners of America, said his group wants the entire law scrapped.
"It was poorly drafted and slammed through in 1988," said Hammond. "It was an exercise in trying to do something about a problem that didn't exist, in a way that supposedly made Congress look good but hasn't been thought out."
Both groups emphasized that they completely oppose Schumer's bill.
"The NRA has been working for months to thwart expansion of the UFA by Sen. Chuck Schumer and others," Arulanandam said. "We will continue to aggressively fight any expansion of the UFA or any other proposal that would infringe on our Second Amendment rights."
Someone is going to have to explain how banning plastic guns that could do serious damage and cause some unthinkable tragedies violates second amendment rights. Maybe they think it's a good idea for people to make their own guns and then bring the undetectable guns to airports, Presidential speeches, into the Capitol or other government buildings, etc? I mean, why not? This is America after all. This is the land of guns and gun worship. This is the land where a disturbed teen-ager who never should have been around guns was provided easy access to them by his own mother and one year later we are set to memorialize the 26 innocent people he massacred in an elementary school.

In light of all of this, I would like to correct some other gun lobby myths sent to me by more than one of my commenters. Some of my readers continue to excuse what's going on by telling me that gun deaths are not among the top leading causes of death. Gun deaths are among the most frequent cause of traumatic deaths and the second leading cause of death in 15-24 year olds. If we separate out some age groups, we find that firearms are responsible for more deaths than other causes of deaths. From this article: "Nationally, guns still kill twice as many children and young people than cancer, five times as many than heart disease and 15 times more than infection, according to the New England Journal of Medicine." For almost every other cause of death, we are doing what we can to prevent the disease or the cause or lower the incidence. That is what public health is about. That is what medicine is about. Why does it matter if gun deaths don't outpace some other forms of death? Because it is not the leading cause of death, should we sit back and let it happen? I'm just asking.

I also continue to get the bogus nonsense about millions of incidents of gun uses for self defense. This has been debunked over and over again.  And then there's the idea that suicides by gun don't count. They do count. In fact they account for the majority of gun deaths in America. What the people who want to exclude those deaths from the total seem to be saying is that if someone decides to end their life with a gun, we should just let them go ahead. They will find other means if not a gun. The thing is, a gun is the most successful and lethal means of committing suicide and the most final. It's surprising to know that if a suicide attempt fails, most people don't try again. But with a gun, there is no second chance. When guns are easily available in homes, they can be used for homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. And they are. It turns out that most homicides are amongst people who know each other but the gun guys who read my blog love to insist that most homicides are gang related. Yes, many gun deaths are gang related. It's hard to find good numbers about the problem of gang related gun violence compared to non gang related homicide. But we know that most homicides are among people who know each other rather than random acts of violence. Here is a site that shows that overall gang homicide is not the majority of homicides but doesn't separate it out by weapons used. If we extrapolate, however, if overall gang homicide numbers were 1824 in 2011, then gang gun deaths do not account for the majority of gun homicides. But to dismiss this as a reason for not expanding and strengthening our gun laws is a straw man argument.

So while I digressed about myths, more Americans died from gun injuries. Joe Nocera of the New York times published his latest gun report. I am not alone in expressing concern and outrage over this state of the country one year after the Sandy Hook shooting. This article says it well:
If the murder of 20 schoolchildren is not enough, it is indeed hard to imagine what degree of carnage might finally challenge America’s gun idolatry. As in past shooting events, after the initial national gasp of despair, Second Amendment absolutists simply waited out public outrage in well-founded confidence that the Sandy Hook threat to gun rights would eventually dissipate. It has.
What has changed since Sandy Hook? The nation’s school districts have been busy attempting to shore up security, allocating $5 billion this year, not on new learning technologies or textbooks, but on such oddities as bulletproof whiteboards and new barricade and intruder-alert systems. Some have even trained and armed teachers and staff, and campus invasion safety drills have become commonplace.
The National Rifle Association had a good year, breaking records in fund-raising, and, in a small nod to simple decency, a coalition of gun-rights groups agreed to change the date for their proposed celebration of gun ownership, “Guns Save Lives Day,” from the Dec. 14 anniversary to the day after. (...) 
A couple of months after Sandy Hook, this publication advocated a constitutional change to put an end to the interminable debate about the meaning of “well regulated” in the Bill of Rights (“Repeal the Second Amendment,” Editorial, 2/25). Our current appeal is simply to common sense. As the victims of gun violence pile up—about 90 die each day—a minority of Americans hold the nation hostage to an absolutist interpretation of the Second Amendment. Who but a handful of citizens wish to live in the current gun dystopia? Some continue to insist, against all empirical evidence, that the answer to gun violence is to put even more guns in circulation. Such ideology over evidence cannot be allowed to dictate public policy.
A recent survey by Johns Hopkins University confirms that 89 percent of Americans support universal background checks and that significant majorities support bans on assault weapons and the high-capacity magazines that serve them. Why does such legislation time and again stall in Congress?
Why, indeed? While Congress is stalling, it looks as if yet another mass shooting has been averted in Connecticut. Another student with guns and ammunition. Another student with stories about other mass shootings found in his possession. When will it end? From the article:
It's not clear what Dong's intentions might have been, but friends have called the incident a "huge misunderstanding" and said Dong was often confused about where he was allowed to carry guns.
"It was a shock," said Thomas Wething, who went to high school with Dong and watched police search his home from across the street. "I was questioning it at first."
Dong's best friend, Manuel Pallares, said Dong carries weapons every day to protect himself while working at an armored truck company that delivers money.
"I'm pretty sure he's not going to go out and shoot people," Pallares said. "He frowns on those people. He hates hearing about gun violence."
On Tuesday evening, West Haven police launched a search of Dong's home on Stratfield Road.
Police left the house around 10 p.m. and said they would return on Wednesday to continue collecting evidence.
That evidence included several pistol magazines and ammunition, according to West Haven police.
Fairfield police said Dong has legal gun permits for two handguns, but they haven't specified whether those are the same guns recovered yesterday.
How could this suspect be confused about where he could carry guns? Er, uh, ..... Right. When people like his friend carries his gun to work, perhaps the suspect thought he could, too. The difference is that his friend works for an armored truck company whose trucks have lots of money inside. And then this- " "I'm pretty sure he's not going to go out and shoot people," Pallares said. "He frowns on those people. He hates hearing about gun violence.""

Really? You wouldn't know it by his actions. That's the problem. "Good guys" with guns become bad guys with guns in an instant. And once that happens, it's often too late. In this case, the suspect was stopped before another December mass shooting.

Enough is enough. Let's get to work to strengthen our gun laws and prevent some of the daily carnage. We are better than this.

UPDATE:

Thousands of rounds of ammunition and articles about the Aurora theater shooting were found in the padlocked bedroom of the young man found with a gun at the Connecticut college campus:
A Connecticut college student arrested carrying two handguns on campus also had an assault rifle and bullets in his car, and police found 2,700 rounds of ammunition and newspaper clippings of the Colorado theater shooting at his home, authorities said Wednesday.
William Dong, 22, a student at the University of New Haven, was arraigned Wednesday in Milford Superior Court on several charges including illegal possession of an assault weapon. A judge ordered a mental health evaluation and kept his bail at $500,000. Dong remained detained Wednesday evening. (...) 
Dong was carrying the two handguns, for which he had permits, and ammunition, authorities said. Police also found a Bushmaster assault rifle and ammunition for it in Dong's car parked near campus. Lawlor said the rifle appeared to be the same kind used by Adam Lanza to kill 20 first-graders and six adults at a school last year in Newtown, about 20 miles away.
Because Connecticut passed a law making possession of assault weapons like the one Dong owned, he can be charged with a crime. Laws matter. What was this young man who appeared to have some mental health problems doing with an assault weapon at his home? Where were his family members who must have known that something was not right? When someone padlocks their bedroom door, something is not right. People with mental illness, if that is what was the case here, and guns are a potentially deadly mix. It was interesting that Dong had a permit for his handguns however. I imagine we will learn more about this case. But



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