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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Friday, January 24, 2014

Gun industry marketing and need for compromise


The most recent firearms industry trade show, the SHOT show, held in Las Vegas, was full of guns, of course. The industry, like any industry, needs to make a profit and sell their products. Most industries have trade shows and hype new and old products alike. When the gun industry holds a show, they are hyping products designed to kill people and animals. Most gun owners just want a gun or two for hunting and maybe for self protection. Clearly, though, there are some who envision themselves as military members stalking an enemy in the woods or maybe on the streets of our cities. Josh Sugarman of the Violence Policy Center, wrote about the recent SHOT show and this type of marketing.
"The SHOT Show is the primary marketing opportunity for firearms companies to hawk their new products to gun dealers. Increasingly, these sales pitches feature assault rifles, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and accessories such as silencers. As a new report from my organization the Violence Policy Center (VPC) shows, the way the gun industry sells and markets its products today is as predictable as it is disturbing.
In the wake of declining household gun ownership, it is no secret that the industry has focused its marketing and sales efforts on military-style assault rifles. This is not your grandfather's gun industry that met the needs of hunters and sportsmen. Instead, gun companies are promoting assault rifles like the AR-15, AK-47, and numerous others as the profit center of last resort.
The nation's leading assault rifle manufacturer is Freedom Group (now officially Remington Outdoor Company, Inc.), the company that made the Bushmaster XM-15 used at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Freedom Group is owned by Cerberus Capital Management, which, despite a promise made in the days following the Newtown massacre that it would divest itself of the gun conglomerate, has failed to do so. (...) 
Gun companies like Freedom Group have made a decision: They are willing to risk future mass shootings by selling military-style assault weapons that private citizens have no reason to own. It will be up to the rest of us to expose this shameful record and hold the industry accountable."
All of this being the case, as long as there is a profit making industry in the middle of the gun debate, how do we change the conversation towards preventing gun injuries and deaths? There is not an even playing field when one side has a powerful, well funded industry on its' side calling the shots (pardon the pun). We are also not on an even playing field when the gun extremists come to rallies and legislative hearings in public places with AR-15s and other openly carried guns on their persons. Take what happened at the Virginia Capitol on Martin Luther King day. From this blog post:
"Not only were the sticks a point of contrast, so was the procedure for allowing these two disparate groups to enter the General Assembly building to talk to their elected legislators.  While the heavily armed VCDL supporters were allowed to enter the building expeditiously via a side door and bypass the metal detectors with their loaded weapons, the pacifist GVP supporters from the vigil were made to file slowly through the metal detectors, needless to say without those incredibly dangerous and thus prohibited flags on sticks. 
Looks to me like we need to rethink our definition of "assault weapons" to include this new category of hand held symbols of "the land of the free and the home of the brave", namely small US flags on sticks! "
Aren't the metal detectors there to detect guns and other such weapons? So why would the guys with the guns not go through a metal detector? Because we can already see that they have guns? Is this a good idea? Do we only screen some people and not others? What happens when the screeners discover that someone is trying to bring a gun into the capitol via the usual entrance? Is that gun taken away? So what is the special privilege for those guys to get in to a public building without going through the metal detector? Did officials know for sure that every one of those folks was law abiding? This is hypocrisy at it's worst.

In this article you can see the photo of the gun rights folks with their guns openly carried. From this article:
"We wouldn't have speed limits," says Lori Haas of Coalition To Stop Gun Violence. "We wouldn't have any laws if your premise is that you know felons and criminals don't listen to laws, we have got to do something.  We want better background checks and we want a better system of identifying dangerous people and keeping firearms from those people."
Both sides saying they'll wait and see whether a new governor and a possible power shift in the senate will mean any changes to gun issues.
"When there are more children killed than police officers, more pre-schoolers killed than police officers, something's very wrong," Haas says.
"Gun control is not popular in Virginia," Walker says. "2nd Amendment supporters are a growing breed."
So what's more dangerous? American flags on sticks or AR-15s? And what's more popular in Virginia- "gun control" or 2nd Amendment supporters? One can be both actually. They are not mutually exclusive. But let's look at support for "gun control" in Virginia:
A new statewide poll finds overwhelming support in Virginia for requiring background checks on buyers at gun shows and for posting armed police officers in public school buildings in the wake of last month's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut . The shooting left left 26 people dead, including 20 children. (...) 
When asked whether Virginia's gun-control laws should be stricter or more lenient, 49 percent of those surveyed favored tighter control, 6 percent said they should be less stringent, and 42 percent felt they should remain the same.
Other gun-related questions in the survey found: 58 percent supported a national ban on assault weapons and 59 percent supported banning high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The survey, released Thursday, found 92 percent favor gun show background checks.
Hmmm. So half of those polled ( January, 2013 poll) also said they believed that guns could protect one from criminals. In the same poll, those who responded clearly believe in stronger gun laws in Virginia while at the same time believing guns could protect them from criminals? How could that be? The two can go together. People can have guns for protection from criminals and others if they so choose. Nothing will change that. But they can and do also believe that background checks are a good idea. And they are. The idea that we would allow criminals and those who shouldn't have guns to get them anyway is ludicrous. Of course criminals will not obey every law. We already know that. Does that mean we shouldn't pass any laws? That is a lame excuse that is rarely challenged. Criminals do try to buy guns from licensed dealers. They are turned away because they are criminals but they do try. That means the Brady background check law works as far as it goes. But we know we can do better by finishing the job and requiring those same checks for private sales. Why wouldn't we? Law abiding citizens should not be concerned about this. In fact, it would make their own arguments stronger. They want guns to protect themselves from criminals. If fewer criminals are able to get guns, they should all feel safer. And the rest of us will too.

In fact, new information from the state of Colorado which just passed a law requiring background checks on all gun sales reveals that the system is working and supported by the citizens of Colorado. From the article:
A total of 7,351 applications for both private and retail sales were denied in 2013, at a rate of 1.85 percent. The denial rate in 2012 was 2.14 percent. The most common reasons for denial varied: 1,412 were due to an arrest or conviction of assault; 381 because the applicant had a restraining order against them; 166 for arrest or conviction of sexual assault; and 41 were because of a homicide conviction, and arrests or convictions for other crimes. There were a total of 6,198 private sale background checks from July through December, with 122 of those denied during that period.
"The vast majority of gun buyers are law-abiding people, and for them a background check is no problem," said Rep. Rhonda Fields, cosponsor of the background check law, to The Huffington Post. "But the new law is preventing significant numbers of violent criminals and people under domestic restraining orders from buying guns. That's exactly what we intended with our new background check law, and the stats prove that it's working. It's making our neighborhoods safer, and that makes me very happy." (...) “The stats directly contradict the contention that criminals would simply evade the law and that it was unenforceable,” said McCann (D-Denver), a co-sponsor of the background check law, in a statement in November. “The people of Colorado overwhelmingly support the new law requiring background checks on all gun sales. Anyone who continues to argue against it is going to have to explain to the voters why we would want to make it easier for criminals to get guns.”
Colorado voters appear to strongly support the universal background check legislation. A recent Qunnipiac survey showed that 85 percent of state voters approveof the new gun law.
And yet, several Colorado law makers were recalled in an off year election with low participation. Sometimes things do not make sense. Many recent articles have been written after the Sandy Hook shooting urging compromise and reason on both sides. It does not appear to be happening. Why not? The above articles explain a lot. There is not an even playing field. But that shouldn't be what matters here. What matters here are human lives. We lose 80 Americans a day to gun injuries from gun homicides, suicides and "accidental shootings." That is simply not OK. But when the rhetoric is all about who can bring the most guns to a rally to intimidate the other side, we will have trouble moving towards common sense. And make no mistake, those loaded guns at rallies are meant to send a message to others. Don't mess with my guns.

When I write my posts I get an occasional reasonable gun owner who seems willing to engage in a discussion that doesn't result in name calling ( not by me) or rudeness ( not by me). Others have the same experience. Here is just one of the many recent articles written by a Texas journalist named Matt Valentine who wrote this article for Slate. In the article Valentine is calling for moderation on both sides of the issue. That is what Americans really want. And that is what will save lives and prevent the devastation caused by gun violence in our communities. But some just can't go there. For example, infamous NRA Board member Ted Nugent has issued yet another offensive and inflammatory statement at the above mentioned SHOT show:
Aging rock star and NRA board member Ted Nugent has taken his typical extremist rhetoric up a notch calling President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” in a recent interview at a hunting and outdoor trade show in Las Vegas. 
“I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America,” Nugent said in response to a question about the 2016 election in video from Guns.com and shared by Media Matters. 
What does this mean? Nugent has not been subtle about his hatred for President Obama and his desire to do something about it. This is most certainly not the way to compromise and come to agreement about our national public health and safety epidemic. More from the article:
While he may not have “galvanized” enough Americans with his rhetoric to get Obama thrown out of office, Nugent’s message is appreciated by some. The Outdoor Channel recently inked an exclusive endorsement deal with Nugent. 
“Ted Nugent symbolizes everything that is right in our industry and represents our viewers as an outspoken patriot, a skilled outdoorsman and a devoted family man; we are proud that he can be found exclusively on Outdoor Channel,” Jim Liberatore, President and CEO of Outdoor Channel, said in a statement. “His programs have a powerful, zealous fan base with unmatched engagement levels. And, under this agreement, we will join forces with Ted to become advocates for all enthusiasts who love and live in the outdoors.”
Really? Well if Nugent "symbolizes everything that is right in our industry" we have a huge problem. And that is the problem for the gun rights extremists. Nugent is a spokesperson. Is that a good idea? You can watch his offensive and provacative rant below:



What does he mean by another "Concord Bridge"? Nugent's not so subtle message to his followers has to do with armed revolt. We are not on a level playing field when an NRA Board member, presumably supported by the organization, rants in this manner. So if we want moderate voices and compromise, that is what we should have. As long as this kind of rhetoric continues, it is not possible to have the reasonable national discussion we deserve. It's time for a change. Let's get to work.

Sigh.

Back to Virginia where I started this post, apparently there are legislators who think citizens have a right to own Bazookas. I'm not making this up. This goes back to the beginning of this post. Do some gun extremists imagine themselves as citizen soldiers? What is this really all about anyway? It certainly has nothing to do with hunting or self defense. The first article about the SHOT show even has a quote from the show's organizer in which he admits that the sale of military style weapons doesn't appeal to the average hunter. Duh! Do you think? I guess in Virginia they do. You just can't make this stuff up.

It's time for a change in the conversation about the gun issue. Can we manage it when gun rights advocates push for Bazookas for citizens and Ted Nugent issues regular offensive screeds and remains on the Board of the NRA? I don't know. But I do know that we just have to be better than this.

UPDATE:

I missed something new on the firearms market. There will now be production in the U.S. of a double barreled AR-15:
Since the ATF defines a “machine gun” as any firearm that fires multiple rounds with the pull of a single trigger, Gilboa is re-designing the rifle to have two individual triggers instead of the single trigger setup currently being used. We’ve been promised one will be on its way to TTAG command central for a test as soon as it’s ready, and we’ll let you know how it works.
So one can pull two triggers at once? Would that mean that twice as many people could be killed at one time? That's reassuring. The gun industry is always finding ways to get around the rules. Why not? The corporate gun lobby is always urging the country to just "enforce the laws already on the books" rather than pass any new laws to make us all safer from gun violence. But then they, themselves, believe they should not follow the laws or the rules. Hypocrisy as far as the eye can see..........

2 comments:

  1. "Many of you will agree with me- some will not". You have that backwards. There's a reason that the anti-rights crowd is funded by Bloomberg, you represent the minority of voters.

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    1. Actually no. You are wrong. Not sure where you get your figures but there is strong agreement to passing a background check bill in most states and nationally. That has been so for many years now but support got stronger after the Sandy Hook shooting.

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