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 9, 2013

Tis the season- holiday shootings begin early

Every year, there are shootings around the Christmas holiday. As with every other day, shootings don't take a holiday. At our house, we are going to get our Christmas tree today. We have found a favorite place that sells fresh trees that are usually full and not too big. It's hard to find the perfect tree but imperfection is OK by me. The one thing we don't do when we go to get our tree is bring our gun along. I mean why would we? But this guy thought he needed his gun. It didn't go so well for him:
"Michael Bledsoe, 59,  purchased a Christmas tree and went to his vehicle to retrieve a stand. In the backseat of his automobile was a 12-gauge shotgun. As Bledsoe went to grab the stand the shotgun shifted causing something to come into contact with the trigger. As a result, the gun discharged – striking Bledsoe in the pelvic area.
Bledsoe was taken to the Holston Valley Medical Center where he is currently in critical condition."
Senseless and avoidable.

And the homicide shootings have also begun early. An attempted murder/suicide in Texas has changed the holiday for this couple. Clearly they were ready for Christmas by looking at the photo in the article. But I digress. From the article:
A man apparently shot and wounded his ex-wife inside her Pearland home Wednesday before fatally shooting himself, authorities said.
Brazoria County Sheriff's deputies responding to a shooting found the two about 3 p.m. at her home in the 2400 block of Woodbury.
The man was dead and his estranged wife was taken by Life Flight helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Her condition wasn't known Wednesday night but deputies said she was still alive.
Detectives said the case remains under investigation and they have not officially confirmed a possible motive. But, they believe it was an attempted murder-suicide. There were no signs of forced entry into the woman's home and the estranged couple was found together with a weapon.
And a neighbor said this ( from the article): ""They were good people. I never knew that anything was going on," Wright said. "I never heard them arguing with each other."" This is not an atypical response to these incidents. "He was such a nice man." or " This just doesn't happen to people like this." "I can't believe someone like him/her could do anything like this." The thing is, when a gun is available, ordinary people having difficulties in their marriage, or with depression, or under the influence of alcohol, etc. can turn deadly in a minute. I know this from personal experience.

Also the "unintentional" shootings continue, holiday season or not. Can anyone tell me why people "play" with their guns? Guns are not toys. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill people. And yet, way too often "accidents" like this one when someone picks up a gun they think is not loaded shoots a friend or loved one. I believe that when we a culture where guns are so abundant and laws are loose, the message is that it's OK to have guns around your home and people carrying guns around everywhere. But I digress. From the linked article above:
A playful gesture turned out to be a deadly mistake.
Justin Holt, 22, was accidentally shot and killed by his 20-year-old girlfriend, Erin Steele, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The couple had taken turns "dry firing" a new, unloaded gun their friend had purchased while the couple and two other pals hung out at a Boca Raton, Fla. home on Sunday.
Later, police said, the gun's owner, Joshua Henry, loaded the weapon and set it down.
Not knowing it was loaded, Steele picked up the .9mm handgun and fired it at Holt, shooting him in the chest.
Holt died. Senseless and avoidable.

In yet another case of a careless parent(s), and irresponsible permit holders, a 3 year old Indiana child found his parents gun and shot and killed himself:
Police responded to the scene after 6 p.m. where they found the boy inside the home suffering from a gun shot wound to the head. The child was then rushed to Riley Hospital for Children in critical condition and later died of his injuries.
Investigators have indicated that they believe the child accidentally shot himself in the head after he pulled the gun off a kitchen counter.
A neighbor to the family said "I've known they had guns; they've carried them in public on their side, they've got permits for them and I just thought they always were a little bit more responsible than that,"
Avoidable. Senseless.

This incident involves a stray bullet striking an innocent woman inside of a club when a fight broke out in the parking lot. From the article:
Multiple witnesses who were inside a Berkeley County nightclub early Sunday say a woman celebrating her friend's birthday was killed by a stray bullet after a fight broke out between members of a motorcycle club and other customers.
Several punches were thrown and at least 10 bikers from the Misguided Motorcycle Club chased a man outside of the club into the parking lot, witnesses said.
Berkeley County Sheriff’s deputies say one person was shot to death at the Moonshine Saloon on Myers Road early Sunday morning. . 
Berkeley County Sheriff’s deputies say one person was shot to death at the Moonshine Saloon on Myers Road early Sunday morning. .
April Infinger and Aubrey Cade's husbands shielded them from the commotion as they searched for a safe way to exit, Cade said. Cade then hugged Infinger to say goodbye and to thank her for surprising her with a birthday celebration at the club.
Just as they let go, Cade said, she heard a pop and watched as her friend dropped to the ground inside the bar. She turned to look and saw that a bullet had come through the wall from the parking lot.
"She fell to her knees and she never came back up," Cade said.
Senseless. Now another family, and their circle of friends and family, will be celebrating the holiday season in grief.

Gun laws matter. Gun culture matters. In recent news, the country of Iceland just had it's first shooting by a police officer. From this blog post at New Trajectory, we can learn more about this:
Iceland rates 15th for civilian gun ownership rate out of 178 countries, according to www.gunpolicy.org (the U.S. is 1st).  There are 30.3 guns for every 100 citizens there (the U.S. now has 101/100 people).  These guns are almost exclusively used for hunting and target shooting, not self-defense. Despite all these guns, there have only been 5 shooting deaths in the last year in Iceland, with four of those being suicides.  Compare that to about 30,000 gun deaths in the U.S., 11,000 of those being homicides.

So what is Iceland doing right?  According to one article, there is almost no drug problem, and because Iceland is a socialist nation, there is almost no class distinction.  But the real kicker is gun regulation.

Despite being awash with guns, those guns are heavily regulated to keep them from falling into the wrong hands.  Unlike the United States, Iceland requires gun licensing, gun registration, strict recordkeeping by dealers and manufacturers, and markings and tracing of all guns owned and sold.  Iceland also takes part in all United Nations programs to prevent illegal trade of small arms, such as the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty and the U.N. Firearms Protocol, neither of which the U.S. has signed.  As with other such nations around the world that have such regulations, shootings are almost non-existent.
So what is the take away? What's the point? Could the above mentioned shooting incidents have been prevented with stronger gun laws? Potentially but how can we know until we try? But what is clear is that in countries ( and that would be most democratized countries not at war) where gun laws are strong, there are few gun homicides and other gun deaths. So strong gun laws in other countries result in fewer avenues for criminals, domestic abusers, dangerously mentally ill people and others who shouldn't have guns from getting them. Strong gun laws mean that the illegal market for guns is rare. Strong gun laws require that people are licensed and guns are registered in order to make sure those who want guns know this is serious business. Strong gun laws mean average citizens don't get to carry their loaded guns around in public places. Strong gun laws mean that children are protected from gun deaths because their parents most likely don't have loaded guns sitting around in homes. Strong gun laws may require safe storage of guns. Strong gun laws recognize that gun violence is a public health and safety problem and send the message to citizens that death by bullet is unacceptable and whatever is needed to prevent that kind of death will be done. And this can be done while still allowing people to own guns for hunting and sport and even for self defense if necessary. It is only in America where the corporate gun lobby has pushed for guns everywhere and guns in homes and other public places.

So here we are, getting ready for another Christmas and New Year's holiday season. Hanukkah is over now as is Thanksgiving. I already wrote about gun deaths during the Thanksgiving holiday. The thing is, real people are losing their lives every day. Many of them are children. Many are domestic shooting victims. Too many are "accidental" shootings and too many are committed by "law abiding" gun owners. They are law abiding until suddenly they aren't. But I digress.

The one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting is upon us. This Saturday people all over the country will hold vigils to remember the 26 innocent victims of that heinous shooting. Christmas will be painful for those families once again. Last year's Christmas holiday came on the heels of the shooting when the families were still in shock. They have now had a year to be without their loved ones- a year to live with their grief- a year to take stock and a year to promote common sense gun measures ( as many of them have). They are active and they are promoting peaceful solutions to the pervasive violence and gun violence. The Newtown Action Alliance and Sandy Hook Promise have been formed since last Dec. 14th as has Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Americans for Responsible Solutions and a number of social media sites. Other groups have been re-energized and have seen more support than ever before for making our gun laws stronger and changing the conversation about guns and gun violence. These are people with a reason to be passionate and a resolve to make the changes we deserve in our county in order to prevent the daily devastation to families and communities from gun violence.

In the end, too many people are dying from gun injuries in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. The fact that our elected leaders have chosen not to act to prevent at least some of these deaths is anathema to the holiday spirit. This holiday season, ask your Congress members to act. Ask them to stand up for victims and stand up for what's right. As a country we are better than this and we can do better than this. The time is long past to do something. Enough is enough. Let's get to work. And let's hope that there will be fewer gun deaths this holiday season than last.


Apparently guns and using the toilet don't go well together. I have written before about accidental discharges of guns while their owners are going to the bathroom. Here is yet another one of those incidents:
Police Sgt. David Neary told The News-Enterprise (http://bit.ly/19bV94y ) that the man left his pistol on the toilet paper dispenser while using the restroom on Sunday at the Fazoli's restaurant. Neary says the pistol slipped off the dispenser and shot the man in the leg. (...) 
Police say the man had a concealed carry permit.


Holiday shopping didn't go so well for this Wisconsin couple:
A Milwaukee man was charged Monday with negligent handling of a weapon and ordered not to possess any firearms after his gun went off this weekend at Burlington Coat Factory in Regency Mall. (...) 
No one was reported injured, but officers found the bullet and three blue hooded sweatshirts hanging from a rack with bullet holes, the criminal complaint said.
After the gun discharged, the man and 24-year-old Racine woman he was with both left the mall reportedly because they were shocked by the incident. But they ended up turning themselves into police after The Journal Times published the surveillance photos of the suspects showing their faces, the complaint said. (...) 
When talking to investigators later, Jackson reportedly said he had never been in a situation like that before and was scared and didn’t know what to do. He said the pistol was a .38-caliber Derringer with a two-round capacity that he carried for protection since he is a bouncer at a nightclub in Milwaukee, the complaint said.
Jackson stated he does have a Wisconsin concealed carry permit, which police were able to confirm.
He said he does have a holster which he typically keeps his pistol secured in; however, the morning of the incident he stated he was in a hurry so he just placed the pistol in his inside jacket pocket, the complaint said.
Give this concealed carry permit holder credit. He turned himself in and the incident scared him, as well it should have. The reason he waited in his car was to find out if an ambulance came to the mall because he knew the bullet could easily have injured someone. Don't be in a hurry about your guns. Guns are dangerous and intended to kill people. Gun owners and especially those who choose to carry guns in public have a responsibility to be absolutely sure the guns are secured and won't discharge by accident.

Why, I wonder, are there more incidents of guns discharging in public? Could it be that there are more people carrying guns around in public places now and we are beginning to see the result? I'm just asking.


Looks like I might have to make a new post with all of the senseless and avoidable shootings that will leave families without a loved one during the holiday season. Here is something I don't understand. Why do people who have guns need to show other people their guns? It's not the same as showing someone your new camera or your new iPhone or some other new thing. But this young Indiana man wanted to show some friends his gun.  Here is what happened next:
Two years after Aubrey Peters was hailed as a hero for helping save two children who fell through ice on Morse Reservoir in Indiana, grieving teens gathered near that scene Monday night to remember the teenage girl who died over the weekend in what is believed to be an accidental shooting. (...) 
According to the affidavit, McDaniel was showing Peters and the two other men a shotgun and a handgun. Dajuan Williams, one of the men, told police that "McDaniel tried to get Aubrey to hold the gun, but she didn't want to."
At that point, Williams told police, McDaniel ejected the magazine from the gun, pointed the weapon at Peters, took the safety off and pulled the trigger.
McDaniel apparently thought the gun was empty, the affidavit said, but when he pulled the trigger, a round fired.
"Aubrey clutched her chest and said, 'What just happened?' " the affidavit said. Williams told police that while he attempted to help Peters, McDaniel gave the men a story to tell police.
"McDaniel then stated, 'The story is the gun fell off the table and went off,' " the affidavit said.
Guns and young people don't go wall together and nothing good happens late at night when guns are around. Now the lives of all of the young men involved will be forever changed and a young girl, well liked in her school and community, is dead.



Oh, and I forgot to include the latest Week-end Gun Report by Joe Nocera in which he has highlighted the week-end shootings for the first week-end in December. You can read it for yourself if you want to know how many lives have been affected by gun violence and how many people will have a very different holiday season this year than they expected. People of all ages and from most states are included in this report of gun deaths and injuries.

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