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, February 21, 2014

Just some really bad ideas about guns

It's a bad idea for guns to be carried where elected leaders deal with difficult and controversial decisions. It's worse when it's the leaders themselves who carry the guns and do something stupid and potentially dangerous. Such was the case in Colorado this week. A pro gun legislator left his own gun in a case in the hearing room after the finish of a hearing on conceal carry. Really you just can't make this stuff up. Conceal carry permit holders are not as responsible as they should be. That is the problem with allowing loaded guns in public places. From the article:
"In the moments after lawmakers and visitors cleared a committee room Feb. 6 following a debate on concealed handgun permits, Rep. Jonathan Singer found a black canvas bag under the table where lawmakers sit.
Inside, Singer discovered a loaded handgun that belonged to Rep. Jared Wright, R-Fruita, who sits next to him on the House Local Government committee.
“I just immediately notified the Sergeant at Arms and soon we realized it was Jared’s bag,” Singer, a Democrat from Longmont, said Wednesday.
Wright, who is in his first term, told The Denver Post he often carries a concealed handgun inside the Capitol and under state statute has the right to do so as a peace officer. State law prohibits carrying a gun in the Capitol “without legal authority.” (...) 
Wright said he was contacted by Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office about the incident and after speaking with Colorado State Patrol and Roxane White, Hickenlooper’s chief of staff, he agreed to no longer carry it inside the building. A report was not filed.
“I feel it’s my duty to be a first responder wherever I am at,” said Wright. “That’s why I carry it.”
A spokesman from Hickenlooper’s office said Wednesday the incident had been resolved and Wright “agreed to be more careful” about keeping the gun in his possession."
This whole thing is a bad idea. Shouldn't lawmakers follow the laws they make? I'm just asking. What if someone else had found that gun? I'm just asking. Be a first responder? To what? To another law abiding gun owner carrying in the capitol? Have there been a lot of shootings by felons or other prohibited purchaser at state capitols?

Actually, there was a shooting in July of 2007 at the Colorado state Capitol. The shooter, who was killed by a security guard ( hired to take care of such incidents) actually had mental illness but was able to buy a gun anyway from a licensed firearms dealer:
On March 30, 2007, Snyder went to the Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply in Fort Collins, Colorado. In a statement to investigators, the store manager said that Snyder asked to shoot on their range. Snyder was dressed in black pants, a white shirt, and tie. He said Snyder’s “expressionless” demeanor and other behavior caused him concern. He asked Snyder to fill out a form in which he answered “yes” to a question of whether he had “a history of mental illness.” 
He wrote, “Depression & delusions in past.”8 In response to verbal questions, he said he had not fired a gun before. When asked why he wanted to shoot a gun that day, he said that “he was the divine leader of the Nation.” He was told he could not shoot at the range. He stood silent for a minute then turned and left the store. The store manager was concerned enough to call the Sheriff’s Department to advise them. 
On April 2, 2007, Snyder purchased a Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver from the Sportsman Warehouse in Thornton, Colorado.9
He also purchased ammunition. (...) 
On April 4, 2007, Snyder returned to the Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply. He was dressed in black pants, a white shirt, and tie. The same store manager stated, “He was carrying a Smith & Wesson box the way you would carry a baby.” He opened the box to reveal the .357 revolver. Snyder said he bought it at the Sportsman Warehouse in Thornton. He stated, “I would like to shoot on the range.” When informed he could not use the range for the same reasons previously stated; “without expression, he asked if he could see the range.” He then “stood motionless for 15 minutes viewing the range.” When he turned to leave, he asked if he could shoot .38 Special ammunition out of the gun. The store manager stated, “I told him it can shoot .38 Special and .357 magnum.” The store manager reported this to the Colorado State University Police Department. 
How did that happen? Should this man's guns have been taken from him, given his state of mind and the reports from the firing range manager? The firing range manager turned him away because he admitted to mental illness. But he got a gun anyway. Thankfully, after the Virginia Tech shooting, we are doing a slightly better job of reporting folks like this to the NICS background check system. But this man was allegedly not adjudicated mentally ill. What to do? The gun range owner did the right thing. How do we make sure people like this man don't get access to guns? He was otherwise law abiding. It is apparent that we could be doing a better job of screening those who are dangerous to themselves or others from getting guns. We have too many holes in our gun laws that err on the side of making sure even crazy people and felons have guns. It's a bad idea and it's not OK. Luckily no one but the mentally ill man got shot or hurt. This was a tragedy in the making that was avoidable.

It's hard to know what to do with the law abiding folks who are careless. More education? I'm just asking. Not allowing the carrying in so many public places? I'm just asking. Making sure even those who are trained are impeccably careful with their guns would be a good idea don't you think? This off duty police officer must have forgotten about safety and responsibility when his gun discharged in a Miami area restaurant:
The bullet from a gun that accidentally discharged at Shooters Waterfront Cafe hit the metal base of a table, causing it to fragment and ricochet, resulting in minor injuries to at least nine people, police said.
The investigation is ongoing into the Saturday night incident, which involved off-duty Miami-Dade Corrections Officer Marcus Leon Thompson. He told police his Glock 19 9mm firearm went off as he was reaching for money and a valet ticket in his right pants pocket, where he also had his unholstered gun. (...) 
Thompson handed Niekerk $100 with his bill and left the restaurant with his wife after the incident, police said. Once people inside pieced together what had happened, Van Niekerk told police he went outside, found Thompson and told him to wait for police.
Thompson told investigators he accidentally discharged his firearm and his supervisors were contacted.
The police reports list nine people who either felt a burning sensation or received small cuts from bullet fragments after Thompson's gun went off, including two staffers. A 79-year-old woman visiting from New Jersey was taken to Broward Health Medical Center with a small fragment in her buttocks.

The officer even left the restaurant without dealing with the incident. That was a bad idea. What's that all about? Didn't he know his gun had discharged? ( By the way, you have to love the name of the restaurant) Where is common sense? When it comes to guns, we can't afford for those who own and carry them not to have common sense.

In Georgia, folks seem to think there is danger in libraries, bars, schools, etc. so that carrying a loaded gun will protect them from some danger in the book shelves.  But there's a lot more here about which to be alarmed. From the article:
The Georgia House passed a bill Tuesday to allow guns in places of worship, bars, government buildings without security checkpoints, and even eliminate criminal charges for those who accidentally bring their guns to the airport or other secured buildings where guns are prohibited. The bill, a smorgasbord of new gun rights expansions that safety advocates say may amount to the most aggressive bill yet, also expands gun rights in both public K-12 schools and colleges, and even broadens the state’s expansive Stand Your Ground law.
Yes, you read that right. No criminal charges if you "accidentally" bring your gun to the airport or other buildings where guns are prohibited. Great. How will we know the difference between someone who is law abiding and someone who isn't? This law is a really bad idea. So now folks at the Atlanta airport , one of the busiest in the country, will be checking in for flights with those who are carrying firearms to the screening point and have to hope nothing dangerous happens. If it does, let's hope the person with that firearm does actually get charged with a crime. More from the article:
Most of the bill’s provisions apply to anyone who has obtained a state concealed carry permit. While obtaining a permit requires a background check, it does not require any firearms training whatsoever. And another provision of the bill removes the misdemeanor offense of pointing a gun at someone from the list of crimes that bar access to such a permit. Advocates say this provision is particularly alarming for policing domestic violence incidents; currently, police can base a domestic violence gun confiscation on commission of this offense.
The state already has permissive gun laws that allow concealed carry in parks and public transportation. And the new bill seems to expand concealed carry to every conceivable place.
“It’s permeating through virtually every major public institution, virtually,” said Kathryn Grant, who heads the Georgia Gun Sense Coalition. “There aren’t any other spaces left.”
It's reassuring to know that almost anyone can get a permit to carry in Georgia with no training and then carry that gun virtually everywhere in Georgia. What a terrible idea. How do laws this get passed in the first place? This is the gun rights extremists going way too far in their zeal. The people of Georgia don't want this law- from the article: ( "An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll in January found that 78 percent of Georgia registered voters opposed allowing guns on college campuses; 72 percent opposed allowing guns in churches; and 82 percent would require any gun owner who wanted to carry a weapon in public to first take a safety course.") They should think more carefully about who they elect to serve them. Those elected are apparently serving themselves and the corporate gun lobby rather than their constituents. This is not OK and another really bad idea.

This felon tried to buy guns through a Facebook swap site. But he got arrested. Good. Facebook, Instagram, Armslist.com and other Internet sites offer guns for sale with no background checks. That is not acceptable and also a bad idea. All gun sales should have background checks. You can tell Facebook you want them to stop this unregulated gun show here.

Another domestic shooting has resulted in 3 deaths:
The Hialeah Police Department has announced they are investigating the discovery of three dead bodies at a Hialeah home as a double murder-suicide.
Wednesday afternoon, police said 46-year-old Juan Carlos Hernandez fatally shot 41-year-old Onelia Canales, his wife of approximately three months, and her 16-year-old daughter, Jennifer Cordero, before turning the gun on himself.
A search warrant was issued for the home at 581 W. 40th Place, late Tuesday night, and detectives were able to make entry by approximately 10 p.m., where they confirmed three people were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds.
"The best in the world" was all a relative would say about the family, as he entered the home, the day after the family's bodies were found.
The night before, neighbors shared chilling stories they had heard by those related to the woman of the house. "She was screaming today like, 'He brought a gun, and this is what he wanted to do, he wanted to kill my sister and my niece," a neighbor said.
Senseless.

The talk about Michael Dunn is not over. In fact, it's just beginning. I don't think Michael Dunn is seen as a hero by many. But retired Lt. Colonel Robert Bateman has weighed in with this piece about Dunn:
So now we have a guy who, at a convenience store, decides to initiate an interaction with some kids who are sitting in their own car. He does not like their music (describing it to his fiancée as, "thug"), and he does not like the volume. So he does something about it -- he kills.
Did I mention, they are in a parking lot at a convenience store? A place where, pretty much by definition, you are spending only 60 to 600 seconds? A place where, well, you plan to leave? But the AMERICAN PATRIOT Mr. Brian Dunn decided to confront the kids about the volume of their music. These are kids who were sitting inside their own car, and it is he who initiates the interaction. When he got backtalk from them (wow, who knew, teenagers talk back), Mr Dunn pulled out his concealed carry qualified pistol and fired 10 rounds, nine of which hit the car and the kids. Listen to his interview. It is gruesomely fascinating as an illustration of the morons that are allowed to have guns in America. He even shot at them as they were, unarmed, driving away.
Yes, this is stupid and dangerous behavior. Whether or not you believe Stand Your Ground laws are necessary to a polite and safe society, surely you can believe that Michael Dunn acted very very badly when he shot Jordan Davis. It was a bad idea and now a teen is dead.

And I will end this post with yet another Gun Report column by Joe Nocera of the New York Times to remind us about why we need to pass stronger gun laws and change the conversation about guns and gun violence in America. Real people are losing their lives or injured every hour of every day in America. This is not OK. It's past time for change to happen.

UPDATE:

Here's another gun bought through a Facebook seller. This time the purchaser was 15 years old and brought the gun to his Kentucky school. From the article:
The controversy of a student taking a gun on school property continues as investigators look into filing federal charges against the man who sold him the handgun through Facebook.
The boy, who is 15 years old, was caught with a 9mm handgun at Greenup County High School on Friday. He told investigators he bought the gun on the Internet. Greenup County Sheriff Keith Cooper said Tuesday the man and boy arranged the sale through the “Portsmouth Pickers” Facebook group and met up in South Portsmouth, Ky., which is in the western part of Greenup County.
“Basically, as far as an excuse, he said the kid looked older than he was,” Cooper said of the man, who came forward to investigators after seeing WSAZ.com’s story on Saturday night. (...) Under federal laws, people younger than 21 years old cannot have or buy a handgun. By default, that makes juveniles “prohibited” people – much like felons, who cannot have guns, according to Kraig Hankins.

Hankins is the chief of the Flatwoods Police Department and spent 20 years as a senior special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or A.T.F.

Hankins said that isn’t the only federal law that comes into play here.

“Under the federal law, a non-licensee of one state cannot transfer a firearm to a non-licensee of another state,” Hankins said.

The man who sold the gun to the teenager lives in Ohio. Because the teen lives in Kentucky, selling a gun online would have been illegal even if the boy was 21 years old. Hankins said sales across state lines are prohibited unless it goes through federally licensed dealers in each state.
This is a really bad idea. Facebook has to stop allowing the sale and swapping of guns on their site. We need to require background checks on unlicensed sales of guns made through the Internet, at gun shows, and flea markets. Guns are dangerous. This incident is proof positive that background checks would work to stop people who can't legally buy guns to buy them anyway.

UPDATE #2:

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post has written a compelling article about why Stand Your Ground laws are a bad idea:
The law is supposed to solve problems, not create them. Laws should provide as much clarity as possible, not expand the realms of ambiguity and subjectivity. Laws ought to bring about the practical results their promoters claim they’ll achieve. And at its best, the law can help us to live together more harmoniously.
By all these measures, “stand your ground” laws are a failure. These statutes make the already difficult task of jurors even harder. They aggravate mistrust across racial lines. They appear to increase, rather than decrease, crime. 
(...) Stand-your-ground laws shift the balance of power on the streets to those who carry weapons. They thus provide an incentive for everyone to be armed, which is why the National Rifle Association has pressured legislatures in some two dozen states to enact them. We shouldn’t have to wait for another death and controversial trial to recognize that this is a poor reason for laws that cause such palpable harm. It’s time to repeal them.
Thank you Mr. Dionne. Stand Your Ground laws were and are a solution looking for a problem. Legislators were fooled or coerced into passing this dangerous law in half of the states of our country. Attempts to pass the law in other states have failed. It's time for our leaders to stand their ground against the corporate gun lobby and to stand up for victims.

4 comments:

  1. Off person carry is usually not a good idea for exactly the reason that the gun can be accidentally left where it is not secured. This is actually not such an uncommon event. FBI, ATF, Police, and others have this issue many times a year. The usual place is in restrooms. It is common enough that it is one of the standard topics in NRA's "Do Not Be a Victim Course". Administrative handling of a gun is never good in public places. The laws that do not allow guns in places like Post Offices is part of the problem, in that people have to "dis-arm" and handle their gun prior to entry and then after exit. Certainly, education is part of the solution. Now, I also think that education for non-gun owners is also needed in this area. The extra "pressure" to never display your concealed carry gun can be part of the issue that makes people choose to "conceal" over "safety". It is one of the reasons that good police officers do not ask to see your gun during routine traffic stops, only where they are. Unnecessary administrative handling is unnecesary.

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    1. Interesting TopCat. You are agreeing with me that guns are dangerous. Where we part ways is that if guns are so inherently dangerous, why have people carrying in public at all? So it's dangerous to take the guns off and on again is what I think you are saying? It's also inconvenient. The problem with that logic is that way too may incidents of accidental gun discharges have nothing to do with taking guns off and trying to store them someplace ( as per your example of why people should be allowed to carry in Post Offices). Most of them are just plain stupid and careless. Like women carrying in purses and dropping the purse so a bullet is discharged ( ala Wyoming Starbucks) So we should just let people carry openly so that doesn't happen? So what you really want is an armed society where people are regularly seen carrying guns around wherever anyone goes. This is not the society I want., It's not what the public wants. And if you think that will be safer for all of us, think again. Those openly carried guns would also presumably have to taken off when going to the bathroom, going swimming, playing tennis or golf. This is taking a step backwards for our civilized country. We are not at war. People don't need to be walking around with guns openly holstered. We need fewer guns in public, not more. The facts show that our country has the most shooting deaths per 100,000 than any other civilized, democratized country not at war. Most other countries have strong gun laws and far far fewer gun deaths. I would say that speaks for itself.

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  2. It is important that guns carried in purses, need to be "DROP SAFE" and in a holster that completely covers trigger guard. Fortunately, most high quality guns sold today have internal drop safeties to stop such possibilities. Now, there are some of the "small" guns that are not safe when dropped. My advise is to stay with the major brands, like Glock, S&W M&P, Ruger SR series, Sig or FN. Do not let some one make the gun choice for you since you are responsible for that gun, both good and bad things that happen as a result of that gun .
    Yes, guns are dangerous, however, since police have no duty to provide protection to an individual (SCOTUS Castle Rock) they are one of the choices for your responsibility to provide protection for yourself.
    As you are probably aware Open Carry of handguns is a big issue in Texas for the 2014 elections. Currently, all of the Democratic and Republican governor candidates are openly making support for OC as major policy.

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    1. I know you guys don't think police will protect you. They can't prevent all shootings, like domestic shootings that occur within seconds or accidental shootings or suicides. That is why people should think twice about having guns around in their homes in the first place or if they do, they should be secured safely away from those who shouldn't have them or those who would steal them. My interest is in prevention. If we put our minds to stopping people who shouldn't have guns in the first place from getting them, we could be a safer society. If we didn't have people openly carrying weapons around intimidating the public, we would have a better chance at a reasonable discussion. I am aware of the Texas situation. I believe it is a mistake. We don't need Open Carry. We are a civilized country. Shootings mostly happen in or near homes. "Law abiding" citizens account for a good number of purposeful or accidental shootings. Suicides account for most gun deaths. How does openly carrying a weapon protect anyone from that? Most home burglaries occur during the day when no one is home. How does Open Carry protect from that? Most shootings in public places happen so quickly that no one has a chance to respond. There have been few if any instances of someone openly carrying stopping a shooting or dissuading a shooting. There is no need for someone to open carry at Starbucks or in a library. What the heck are you all so afraid of? Remember that 4 police officers were shot dead in a Tacoma, WA coffee shop. Did open carry protect them? We need to stop the shootings before they happen.

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