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.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

More shots fired

It is definitely a puzzle to most of the world that America allows the daily carnage due to gun violence. In our developed country, so good at solving problems for just about everything else, we can't seem to solve this one. We can see the pieces and many of them fit but the last few pieces are not fitting. Why? Because of the corporate gun lobby and because of the lack of courage of our elected leaders, we have left the puzzle unsolved. I suggest that we work together to put it together. If we truly care about lives lost, we can get this done. But while we are waiting and delaying, people are dying. This is simply not OK.

You may remember that I wondered in my last post if we could go one day without a shooting. I guess not. As always, Joe Nocera of the New York Times has written his Week-end Gun Report. It is a special MLK edition this time. I'll let you read about the many shooting incidents for yourselves. But I want to talk about Monday's shootings since that is the day I wondered about. By my count, there were 22 deaths and 27 injured on Martin Luther King day by bullets. These incidents happened in these states:

New York
New Jersey
South Carolina
North Carolina

Are we surprised? We should be horrified actually. When we are faced with the actual shootings of actual people it becomes very real. Some states had more than one shooting on Monday. This is a "normal" day in the life of Americans. The shootings included domestic shootings, accidental discharges, suicides, gang shootings, stray bullets- what else is there? At least there were no mass shootings. But Nocera opened his article with the anniversary of one of the nation's first mass shootings- the Stockton, California school shooting. From Nocera's column, above:
Friday marked the 25th anniversary of the Cleveland Elementary School shooting in Stockton, Calif., the first mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history. In the space of three minutes, five kids ranging in age from 6 to 9 were killed and 29 others were wounded, as was a teacher.
The gunman, Patrick Purdy, 26, was a mentally ill drifter with white supremacist leanings. Like Adam Lanza, he returned to the school he had attended as a child to carry out his rampage—a school populated by many Southeast Asians. (All the children killed and many of those wounded were Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants.) An alcoholic who had been arrested for selling weapons and attempted robbery, he was able to walk into a gun shop in Sandy, Ore., and leave with an AK-47.
Purdy carved the words “freedom,” “victory” and “Hezbollah” into the gun’s stock and donned a flak jacket that read “PLO”, “Libya” and “death to the Great Satan.” He inserted earplugs, sprayed 106 bullets into a schoolyard full of kindergarteners through third-graders, then shot himself in the head.
Why did he do it? “He just hated everybody,” Stockton police captain Dennis Perry told Time magazine in 2001. But to California lawmakers, the more important question was how he was able to get the gun. In the wake of the shooting, measures were taken to ban assault weapons, resulting in the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989. It was the nation’s first assault-weapons ban, and it helped pave the way for the federal assault-weapons ban that lasted from 1994 to 2004.
25 years and what have we done? We passed an assault weapons ban and then let it sunset. We passed the Brady Law which requires background checks on gun sales at federally licensed firearms dealers but didn't finish the job and require those background checks on all gun sales, no matter where they are sold. We allow citizens to carry loaded guns into most public places. People who shouldn't be able to get guns get them anyway. We have amassed 300 million guns- almost as many as there are people. Women and children are shot at alarming rates. It's time for all of this to change. When 22 people die and 27 more are injured in a single day in 25 ( half) of our states, we have a serious public health and safety problem. There is no reason not to have a national conversation about this epidemic of violence that shouldn't lead to common sense measures to prevent at least some of the senseless shootings. Are you with me? If not, why not?

And by the way, there's been another college shooting at Purdue University today leaving one student dead. Yesterday one student was injured by bullets at Widener College near Philadelphia. Is this the new normal in America? Insane and senseless. Where and when does it stop?

It's time to look at the "Finish the Job" video again to remind us about how easy it would be to pass laws to save lives:


  1. I am not with you. As a libertarian, I do not support your efforts to restrict and infringe a fundamental, individual constitutional right. I do not believe that prohibiting so-called “assault weapons” will have any negative effect on crime. I do not believe abolishing concealed carry (which you plainly advocate for) will have any effect on crime. People with concealed-carry permits are demonstrably *more* law-abiding than the public at large. I do not trust you and do not believe that you and your fellow travelers are not pursuing outright gun prohibition via a surreptitious policy of incrementalism. I do not with you because you offer not even the slightest pro-gun concession in exchange for any of the restrictions you want. And finally, I reject the notion that the polices you advocate represent—no matter how tightly you wrap yourself in the phrase—“common sense” solutions to the problem of societal violence. They are no more sensible solutions for violence than a call for a return to alcohol prohibition would represent a “common sense” solution to the problem of drunk driving.

    If you truly care about finding solutions to societal violence, then I suggest you focus on solutions other than gun prohibitionism, because by doing so you will only strengthen the opposition to ANYTHING you advocate, not matter its merits.

    1. And this is the true agenda of the pro gun side. Doing NOTHING at all while watching the bodies pile up- watching little children get shot in their schools. That is the problem. There is no gun prohibitionism as you love to call it. That is a figment of your fear and your imagination. I guess you will not be one of the folks who will work for any measures to prevent shootings. You should probably find another blogger to bother because you and I have nothing in common. Unfortunately for you, most NRA members and gun owners happen to agree with me.

    2. I never said I am unwilling to do anything. I am perfectly willing to explore solutions to societal violence. I do not agree with you, however, that banning assault weapons, abolishing concealed carry, or implementing anything else on the usual wish list of gun prohibitions represent good, workable, or sensible solutions to societal violence. If you want to work together with people like me on solutions to violence, you will need to think of other solutions, because we do not support what you are proposing. In fact, we disagree with what you propose to such an extent that we will work to actively block your proposals. So rather than working on solutions to violence, you will spend your time butting heads. If you want to do that, you are free to spend your own time as you choose, but I will point out that by spending your time pushing for proposals you know full well will be fought tooth-and-nail, you are guaranteeing that your own time will not be spend on solutions that can reasonably be implemented by drawing wide support. For example, quite a lot of the violence in this country is related to the sale and distribution of narcotics. Maybe we should reconsider the so-called War on Drugs and its effects on violence in our country? That is something we could work on that doesn’t involve banning guns.

      And with all respect, ma’am, you asked for comments. If you didn’t want responses, then you shouldn’t have asked for them.

    3. Sounds like someone willing to compromise to me.

    4. Compromise, according to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, means “come to terms by mutual concession.” Each side gives in order to get. What pro-gun concessions would you be willing to support in order to get something you desire? For example, you clearly advocate for a national system of mandatory background checks for all gun sales and transfers. I might be willing to support such a law if it also, say, set a national shall-issue standard for concealed-carry permits and made all concealed-carry permits reciprocal with no exceptions (for example, states like New York and California would not be able to opt out and would have to actually issue permits to their own residents and recognize permits from every other state). Or I might also be willing to support a national background-check law if Congress used its commerce-clause power to overturn state laws on magazine restrictions. In exchange for the universal background checks you want, states like (again) New York would have to drop their silly bans on standard-capacity magazines. Would you agree to either of these compromises? If not, what other compromises would you offer in exchange for universal background checks? If your answer is “none,” then I respectfully submit you are the one unwilling to compromise.

  2. Like Robert, I think that your solution may well be worst than doing nothing. However, I do think that if we (both sides) should take a look at all existing gun laws and the new ones proposed, with looking for proof that they will accomplish a measurable net decrease in violent crime and a net increase in individual safety. Laws that can not be proven to be effective, need to be repealed/not passed.
    Just as there have been calls to change 2A, maybe, we should have a constitutional convention where each state would have one vote. I suspect that the "revised" 2A would certainly increase the limitations on federal government and state governments, mainly since more states are moving in the direction of removing restrictions. NY, CT, NJ, CA, IL ... are the exceptions not the rule. One suggestion is to change the wording on 2A to make self defense as the basic human right, so that ALL items that can be used for self defense are protected not just arms.
    I make the assumption that there are well meaning people on all sides of this issue and there are people willing to apply logic and fact to the issue. Being a mathematician by training, I expect there to be solid logic in any solution that might be considered.

    1. Which solution would be worse than doing nothing? I need to know why you say that. We do know that background checks work. In states that have strong background checks on purchases of guns even from private sellers, gun deaths are fewer. And prohibited purchasers try to get guns in this way and are turned down so we know that it works to stop some gun purchases in this manner. Have there been calls to change the second amendment? Not generally from my side. We were fine with it the way it was interpreted for many years. Even the most recent interpretation makes clear that gun laws that determine who should have guns, what type of guns and where they can be carried are constitutional ( ala Justice Scalia's opinion). We need strong federal laws so that there isn't something different in each state. Illegal guns come into states where there are strong gun laws from states that have weaker laws. That's pretty much agreed upon by most because of crime gun traces. Self defense as a hunan right? Hmmm. Not so sure about that. It is already pretty much in most state laws that a person has a right to justifiable self defense given a credible threat. There doesn't need to be more than that. I think what you are getting at is that people can do pretty much whatever they want in the name of self defense and not have to be responsible for a life taken. That would lead to a lawless society where it would be one person's word against another's and that one person might be dead and not able to speak for him/herself.

      I agree that something needs to change and discussion needs to happen. You are presenting some things here that I don't agree with. But logic and facts are key. If you remember, however, at the behest of the corporate gun lobby, studies performed by the CDC or other federal health agencies were quashed by Congress. We won't get anywhere until studies are done. And then when they are, we can't deny the results. A great new study that was featured on the front page of my paper today was one of the more thorough, scientific studies done yet about access to guns and the risks to suicides and homicides. It has been criticized by the gun lobby already even though it presents some good thinking and good study of the data. Take a look for yourself- http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-guns-20140121,0,1179362.story#axzz2r8FYPjf6

    2. All I want is for fewer gun deaths and injuries. I am not in a position to make deals on this blog post. That is up to the politicians. Why don't you present your ideas to them? Since background checks save lives and don't affect law abiding gun owners, that one is pretty much a no brainer. But as you know, there are states whose CCW laws are so loose or even non-existent that your proposal doesn't work. Maybe you should think about how strengthening the CCW laws so they are all consistent and require adequate training and screening of applicants would actually make us all safer.