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.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

What's that smell and other gun tales?

As I've said so many times on this blog- You just can't make this stuff up. Who shoots their neighbor over dog poop? I guess there are people who think solving a dispute about your neighbor's dog poop is grounds to kill the neighbor. When a gun is available, it just might get used in a shooting of this nature. This one happened last year. Somehow I missed it then. Take a look:
"A 76-year-old Dallas man was convicted of capital murder Thursday in the shooting deaths of his neighbors last year because of a months-long feud about their dog's waste on his porch.
A jury found that Chung Kim fatally shot his neighbor Michelle Jackson, 31, on February 4, as she stood on her balcony above his apartment. Kim then went upstairs to her residence and shot and killed her boyfriend, Jamie Stafford, 31.
The couple's dog would relieve itself on their balcony, causing the urine and feces to drip down Kim's balcony each time they washed it, according to court records."
The shooter at first tried to claim the shooting was in self defense. Whatever. Two people are dead over dog poop. Totally senseless.

And in the category, again, of you can't make this stuff up, what do you think of someone performing a sex act with her handgun and then threatening her boyfriend with said gun in an argument about space aliens? I think it's absolutely absurd:
McCarthy, who wrote the apocalyptic novel The Road – was accused of the aggravated assault.
According to a police report, the couple had an argument over space aliens in their Santa Fe home after which McCarthy left the abode.
She is then alleged to have returned, gone into the bedroom to dress herself in lingerie before performing a sex act on a silver handgun while asking: ‘Who is crazy, you or me?’
 Sigh. Guns can be used in many ways apparently. Not everyone should have one.

Guns at the Greyhound Bus station should not be going off and harming passengers. Check this out:
Houston police say a man was able to sneak a gun past a security checkpoint at the Greyhound bus station in downtown Thursday morning.
The gun accidentally went off, shooting the ground. The bullet fragments hit another passenger, causing minor injuries.
A company spokesman says Greyhound does not allow weapons on its busses. Security at the station is supposed to check passengers and their luggage with a handheld metal detector.
This is why Greyhound doesn't allow guns on their buses. Good idea, I say.

And who knew that playing a video game in your home could be a dangerous proposition? This New Hampshire man was lucky that a bullet fired from across the street and came through his wall didn't cause him serious harm. From the article:
A New Hampshire man playing video games Tuesday night got a taste of real life violence when a rogue bullet hit him in the head. 
Josh Demeritt, 20, of Rochester was surprisingly uninjured by the bullet accidentally fired by his across-the-street neighbor Corey Field, 25, who was in the middle of cleaning his gun. 
But because Field tried to cover up the accident, he is facing two felony charges.
The thing about bullets is that they are designed to have a long trajectory and can hit "targets" not intended by the person whose gun discharged them. What if someone had been innocently walking or driving by when this bullet found its' way across the street from the gun that discharged it. Where are all of those responsible gun owners when we need them?

So can we talk? What's going on here? Why all of these incidents involving law abiding gun owners? When people buy guns, do they have any idea how to use them or the fact that guns are inherently dangerous weapons designed to kill people? The question has to be asked and should be answered. We have a problem in America. Too many "accidental" shootings are injuring or killing other Americans. This is not acceptable. Do we ever think about the fact that when we make it so easy for just about anybody to get a gun in this country, that just about anybody actually does have a gun? When guns are used as sex toys or in minor disputes by neighbors, that is not a gun used for hunting or self defense. Or when more than a few gun owners don't realize that their gun is still loaded when they clean the gun or "play" with it, we have a problem. How can we make sure that the risks of owning a gun are more clearly understood by those who buy them? I believe it's time to have a serious conversation about the risks of owning guns. Having that conversation may actually lead to some common sense ideas about how to make everyone safer- gun owners and non-gun owners alike.

We know already that too many people are murdered with guns every day and too many gun suicides are taking lives at an alarming rate. Joe Nocera who writes the Gun Report for the New York Times reports about the actual shootings in America in his regular column. Here is a recent column.In this post, he begins by talking about the various sites on the Internet where people can buy guns and many without background checks. A new one has now emerged:
First it was Instagram. Now, Reddit, the so-called “front page of the Internet,” has been exposed as an active marketplace for assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and other powerful firearms, according to an investigation by Mother Jones. The Guns for Sale page, which counts more than 7,200 subscribers, offers buyers and sellers a forum on the site, which boasts tens of millions of users and drives major traffic to other websites.
But more than that, the popular bulletin board, which was acquired by Condé Nast in 2006, has lent its logo to guns brokered through the site. Nearly 100 AR-15s have been engraved with Reddit’s signature alien logo. The logo was licensed to the gun group in May 2011, but a Condé Nast spokesperson emphasized that Reddit is “completely separate” from the publishing behemoth.
Like Armslist, the page’s moderators “warn users to comply with federal and state laws, and many sellers on the site say that they transfer guns through FFLs, which conduct background checks on buyers,” Mother Jones reports. “But some user comments suggest that sellers may be exploiting a loophole in federal law to traffic firearms—including talk of licensed dealers selling guns without conducting background checks, which in some circumstances would be illegal.”
Because the Reddit community prizes the privacy of its users, gun advocacy and sales have found an ideal audience. Contributors to Reddit’s gun topic page have already labeled Mother Jones’s report “hack journalism.”
And then he lists the 28 shooting incidents of the past few days to punctuate the fact that more guns are not making us safer. Where does saving lives come in? Profit comes before lives apparently for those in the business. When we start thinking differently and realize that way too many guns sold with or without background checks lead to way too many gun deaths, perhaps something will change. In the mean time, we are stuck with the gun culture we have. We are stuck with the senseless deaths happening every day. My friends at the Ohh Shoot blog and Kid Shootings blog continue to report on incidents involving "accidental" gun discharges and incidents about children and guns. They only report what is actually happening every day in America. They don't make things up.

Maybe one idea that is floating around should be considered. Why shouldn't those who have chosen to own guns have to have "shooters' insurance"? It makes a lot of common senseThis article gives a good argument for the insurance requirement. From the article:
Ultimately, guns are dangerous tools created for one purpose and one purpose alone: killing. And all too often, a mistake with a firearm causes serious injury or death.
The number of unintentional gun deaths every year hovers around several hundred. According to Gun Policy.Org, there were 554 accidental gun deaths in 2009, 606 in 2010, and 851 in 2011.
Tragically, children are often the victims. Mother Jones estimates that of the 194 kids killed in the year after the Newtown massacre, almost half - 84 - were killed by accident.
One of those 84 children was three-year old Ryder Rozier, who shot himself with a loaded gun he found in his uncle's bedroom.
Another was six-year-old Brandon Holt, who was shot and killed by a friend who was playing with a .22 caliber rifle he found in his house.
The plague of accidental gun deaths has continued into 2014. Just last week, there were 23 different accidental shootings of children, eight involving preteens.
As long as guns are accessible and available, unintentional gun deaths will happen. This is just reality. Guns are dangerous weapons.
So how should we do this? More from the article:
Like guns, cars can kill. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans are killed in car accidents. Cars are two-ton hunks of speeding metal, and if not used carefully, they often kill people.
But owning a car is actually more difficult than owning a gun. Before you can legally drive on your own, you have to pass a test and get a driver's license. And if you own a car and want to drive it around, you have to register it with your local department of motor vehicles. You also have to insure yourself and your car.
We require car owners to do these things because we think it's important to put some accountability into the use of potentially deadly machines.
However, thanks to tireless efforts by the gun industry and its front group, the NRA, no such system exists for gun owners. In fact, just the mention of "gun registration" gets the far-right worked up into a frenzied panic.
In reality, though, there shouldn't be any difference between owning a gun and owning a car. Guns and cars are both powerful and potentially deadly. Yet we only require car owners to register their vehicles and insure themselves against accidents and death. (...) 
Like cars, guns should be registered from the time they're manufactured to the time they're destroyed, so there's a continuous chain of ownership.
Anyone who owns a gun should be required to have liability insurance, so if they injure or kill somebody, the victim or the victim's family will receive monetary damages.
Every state in the country should require gun owners to pass a competence test - just like drivers do - and get a shooter's license before they can carry or use a gun.
This is just common sense.
It goes without saying that we need robust gun control measures, like universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons. But we also need to stop treating guns like sacred cows and start treating them like what they are - dangerous weapons that require regulation and insurance.
No matter what Wayne LaPierre says, there is no such thing as an unlimited right, especially when it comes to deadly weapons. You can't just walk into a crowded theater and yell "fire," and you shouldn't be allowed to own a gun without first demonstrating to society that you're fit do so and committed to responsible ownership through liability insurance.
Nothing is going to bring back the hundreds of people accidentally killed each year by irresponsible gun owners. But if we started treating guns like cars, people would think twice about leaving their shotgun hanging around the house or keeping their handgun unlocked.
Yes. Common sense. I'm not the only one to use those words when it comes to gun violence prevention measures. But for the corporate gun lobby, there is no common sense. There are profits. There are rights. There is fear and paranoia. There is hiding behind the second amendment no matter what is being said.

We can make changes to our gun laws and our gun culture by talking about this issue differently. Why do we not treat guns like other products that have been deemed potentially dangerous? There is no reasonable answer to this question. It's not found in the second amendment. It's found in our communities where far too many families are devastated by gun violence. The answer is doing what's right. The answer is that we can't let what's happening now continue.

I'll end where I began. Something doesn't smell right when it comes to the discussion about guns and gun violence. Maybe if we put our noses to the "grindstone" we can work hard together to solve our nation's public health and safety problem. I know we are better than this. And most people agree with me. So let's get to work. Are you with me?


  1. i find your comparison to car ownership interesting. All you need is money to buy a car. To buy a firearm in MN you need to submit paperwork with a valid ID, pay a fee, get and be approved by an extensive background check, which takes up to a month. Then you need to take your money to a store, pay for a hunting rifle, go through more paperwork, go through yet another background check though NCIS....

    Not even close. Either way, criminals are going to go around any laws and steal or buy from another criminal, cars and guns.

    1. What? No, to buy a car you have to show your drivers's license, get a loan, be approved for a loan, sign the registration cards and buy license plates. You certainly don't have to wait one month to buy a gun in Minnesota. You may need to wait to get your transfer permit from local LE. That's a good thing. After that, you can buy as many handguns and assault rifles as you want until you go back to get another transfer permit. I'm sure you know that, though, right? https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/bca/bca-divisions/administrative/pages/firearms-permit-to-purchase-transfer.aspx I just don't think this is much of an inconvenience for the privilege to buy a deadly weapon- different from a car which is not designed to kill people. A hunting rifle purchase requires a NICS check- easy peasy. It only takes about 90 seconds or a few minutes, right? Quit whining. Criminals get their guns from unlicensed sellers on the Internet, at flea markets, gun shows, straw purchasing, stealing the guns. Easy peasy. It should be a lot harder and we can make it harder by requiring background checks at these venues, tightening straw purchasing laws, requiring reporting of lost and stolen guns, making sure guns are safely stored, etc. Easy peasy. And it would save lives. Seems like a good idea to me.

      When you walk out of the dealer with your car, you will have government mandated seatbelts and airbags. You will follow speed limit laws. You won't drink and drive, right?

  2. Not exactly, permit to purchase takes valid ID and a month in MN to process. You have to fill out the form and bring your documents to your sheriff or chief of police and they do background checks. There is a secondary option that costs another fee at the FFL to purchase with an additional background check. CCW takes a class and a fee and submitting to another background check. No matter what you do, you have to then do NCIS.

    I can take cash and buy a car from anyone. They can sign the title to me, if it has one. What happens from there is what any law abiding citizen would do, license, insurance, etc.

    No background checks, ID, permits...I have cash I can buy a vehicle, no questions asked.

    These state laws are illegal, btw. 2nd amendment of the bill of rights trumps all local laws, state laws, and codes. You want to restrict and infringe, you need to do it the right way, a constitutional amendment. That needs to be ratified by the states.

    So what is your endgame? Full confiscation?

    Leave law abiding citizens to the mercy of criminals to be raped, killed, homes invaded? Britain banned guns and knife crime is way up, now they are looking to ban knives...rediculous. Australia banned guns, home invasions skyrocketed, armed robberies increased, gun violence went up... only criminals have guns and they know they can break in to your home and do whatever they want. Helpless seniors can't protect themselves. Is that what you want?

    1. Wow- you sure live in a different world than I do. Talk about fear and paranoia on display! I really like this one-" I can take cash and buy a car from anyone. They can sign the title to me, if it has one. What happens from there is what any law abiding citizen would do, license, insurance, etc. "

      You know you can do the same if you want a gun in a hurry, which it seems like you do. All you have to do is find a private seller at a gun show, flea market, on line or somewhere else ( armslist.com) and you can walk away with a gun with no paper work, no background check, no fuss, no muss, and in just minutes. Easy peasy. I am concerned that you are in such a hurry to buy your guns that you can't wait to get your permit to purchase. Once you get it, of course, you can buy as many handguns and assault rifles as you want. I presume you have many because you seem to think you need to defend yourself against all of those mythical people who are just waiting to break into your house. And, of course, that happens infrequently when the home owner is actually at home. But in your case, they may know that you have an arsenal and they would love to steal your guns. Guns are among the most frequently stolen items from homes.

    2. As to "only criminals have guns" in Australia, for example, that is an abject lie. Many citizens own guns in Australia. They just have to go through a more sensible process to get them. And their rate of gun deaths is miniscule compared to the U.S. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/14/america-mass-murder-australia-gun-control-saves-lives
      From that article: " he 1996 reforms made gun laws stronger and uniform across Australia. Semi-automatic rifles were prohibited (with narrow exceptions), and the world's biggest buyback saw nearly 700,000 guns removed from circulation and destroyed. The licensing and registration systems of all states and territories were harmonised and linked, so that a person barred from owning guns in one state can no longer acquire them in another. All gun sales are subject to screening (universal background checks), which means you cannot buy a gun over the internet or at a garage sale.

      Gun ownership requires a license, and every sale is subject to a 28-day waiting period. The licensing process considers not only the applicant's age and criminal convictions, but also a range of other factors relevant to possession of a product that is (a) designed for killing and (b) highly coveted by people who should not have it. Relevant factors include the applicant's living circumstances, mental and physical health, restraining orders or other encounters with the law, type of gun desired and for what purpose, safety training, storage arrangements, and the public interest." And also- "An important feature of a licence is that it must be renewed every few years, and it can be cancelled or suspended if the bearer no longer meets the standard required – for example, due to domestic violence or a dangerous mental condition.

      Australia didn't ban guns. Hunting and shooting are still thriving. But by adopting laws that give priority to public safety, we have saved thousands of lives." Clearly gun violence did not go up in Australia. I don't know where you get your information? You really should read this one which debunks your talking points which I assume you received from a pro gun group- http://www.snopes.com/crime/statistics/ausguns.asp

      So stop with all the paranoia for goodness sake. And my endgame, by the way, since you asked and seem so afraid of what "i" might do to you, is to personally gather all of the gun violence prevention supporters- the majority of us by the way, and start knocking on the doors of gun owners ( surely we can get the membership list from the NRA and other pro gun sites, right?) to confiscate your guns. It should be easy and quick, right? I mean, we will be unarmed of course. And it's cold in Minnesota so that has to be considered. And then there's the time involved. But I'm sure we can accomplish it in maybe 5 years or so. Either that or we can commandeer the National Guard and get them to do the same. That may take slightly less time. Or there are always the "black helicopters" that will land in your front yard. I'm sure you can see that this is what we want to do and that it will be just that easy. And if you believe all of that, then I can't help you and there's no sense in you and I having any exchange. You are living in a very scary world indeed. Good luck with that.