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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Real people are dying from gunshot injuries every day

The trial of Michael Dunn, which I wrote about in my last post, has America talking. Is this for real? Is this a movie or a play? If it is, it is a tragedy. Dunn killed Jordan Davis, a black Florida teen, over loud music coming from the car in which he sat. Does this happen for real? From what I have observed some on the extreme side of gun rights seem to think the actors involved are just part of the play they are writing for our country. There is a disconnect with reality in the theater of gun rights activists. For in real life 80 Americans a day are dying from gunshot injuries. In real life, shooters go to schools and shoot at children as young as 7 and as old as college students on a fairly regular basis. In real life, innocent people are shot for wearing a hoodie while walking in a neighborhood, for playing music too loudly, for texting in a movie theater, for egging someone's car. In real life women are killed by their partners/husbands with regularity.

And there are those real children who find real guns bought by family members. And in reality, suicide by gun takes more lives than homicides. In real life, families are grieving for loved ones and the lost potential of those lost lives. In real life, "law abiding" gun owners shoot family members and friends. In real life felons, domestic abusers, and dangerously mentally ill people can easily buy and access guns. So why is any of this acceptable if we have a conscience? Who is speaking for these real people? Who is speaking for the conscience of America?

And then came an article from Sojourners, Faith in Action for Social Justice Sojourners founder Jim Wallis puts the murders of innocent people because of Stand Your Ground laws in a moral light where it belongs:
The problem is the systemic injustice inherent in Stand Your Ground laws: just feeling like you are being threatened can justify your response in “self-defense.” Under Florida self-defense laws now, someone can use even lethal force if they “reasonably believe” it is necessary to defend their lives or avoid great harm. How does a jury decide what a “reasonable person” would do under all the circumstances? Even if Dunn really believed there was a gun in the black teenagers’ car and there wasn’t one, he could still be justified in shooting into the car according to Stand Your Ground. The New York Times quoted Mary Anne Franks, an associate law professor at the University of Miami saying, “This trial is indicative of how much of a problem Stand Your Ground laws really do create … By the time you have an incident like this and ask a jury to look at the facts, it’s difficult to re-create the situation and determine the reasonableness of a defendant’s fear.” And unfortunately, the law creates an opportunity for racial factors — whether they’re conscious or not — to trump facts when even one juror who is sympathetic to a defendant’s “reasonable” fear can prevent prosecution.
The facts of the case really don’t matter anymore, just the feelings and beliefs of the defendant. And when you add the race of the victims into the mix, the disparities in how the law is applied are clear. Basically, if a white man feels or believes he is threatened, regardless of the facts of the case, he can be justified in shooting and killing a black man. The reality of Stand Your Ground laws in Florida and 24 more states is that racial fear and hatred is now legally justified. Black men are always at risk — as every black parent in this country has told their young boys and as the statistics now bear out.
Since the law was passed in Florida, there has been an 8 percent increase in the homicide rate. Under Stand Your Ground laws in general, the chances that white-on-black killings will be found justified is more than 11 times than that of a black-on-white shooting using the same defense.

America, we have a problem. It's unimaginable that the daily carnage of gun violence does not ping the collective conscience of our elected leaders. They know the right thing to do but some have been convinced that they shouldn't because it wouldn't be politically expedient. When lives are at stake, there should be no political expedience. It is up to us to keep these folks honest and focused on why and who they are serving. Public health and safety for the common good of citizens of all ages, all colors, all political persuasions, all sexual persuasions and physical and mental abilities should be at the base of all decisions.

Too often our leaders forget why they are in office. They need to be reminded. So keeping facts in front of their faces and raising voices for those who can't is important for constituents and the media alike. In that regard, Joe Nocera, writer for the New York Times is providing a service to the country. He is keeping track, as much as possible, of the daily shooting incidents in our country. He does so dispassionately. The facts speak for themselves. Nocera's latest Week-end Gun Report, includes a video that is worth taking a look at. Here is the video:

This is a new way of looking at things. This new group, Evolve, is made up of gun owners who want to pass common sense gun laws and change the conversation. They are in the majority of gun owners but their voices are not being heard. They understand that if we but read the reports of actual shootings of actual people, there are too many "dumb asses" with guns causing too many real deaths. This is unacceptable. The "founding fathers"couldn't possibly have meant that people with the right to bear any kind of gun they want should be allowed to do anything with that gun with no regulations to check irresponsibility and dangerousness. The "founding fathers" also believed in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Would they have thought that on a recent holiday week-end, 17 people would be dead and 22 injured from gunshots in one day (Friday)? Could they have imagined that these incidents occurred in 21 of our 50 states? There are many more for Saturday and Sunday. In what other developed country not at war do columnists keep track of daily gun incidents?

There may be rights. But there are responsibilities. That part is where we have our most quibbles about the right to own guns. Actually stronger gun laws are supported by the public and even gun owners and NRA members. When asked about specific measures the public supports background checks for all gun sales as a responsible solution to widespread gun violence. And yet, the gun lobby opposes anything that makes common sense. To them, everything leads to registration. Let's take a look at Missouri where several things are happening with gun laws. The gun lobby screamed "registration" and a Senate committee went running away from an amendment to a bill that would nullify federal gun laws.Yes, you read that right. The bill is supported by the gun extremists. On the other hand, a common sense amendment to this bill would have required reporting of lost and stolen guns. Horrors! A good number of crime guns are stolen and some folks don't report them to be "lost" or stolen. See the DC Sniper case. From the article:
The NRA had not weighed in on the issue until the Senate adopted Nasheed’s amendment. In a posting on its website last week, the NRA said it has consistently opposed such measures, arguing that they could lead to a gun-owner registry by having owners tell police when guns are missing.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, said the organization “misfired” on its opposition and mischaracterized the amendment. But he ultimately supported stripping the provision because the state doesn’t require many other thefts to be reported.
The NRA claimed that failing to report a stolen firearm would subject owners to a year in prison, a $1,000 fine and the loss of their concealed weapons permit – but those penalties weren’t in Nasheed’s amendment.
Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said he supported stripping the amendment because of the potential for civil liability if a gun owner did not report a stolen weapon.
Never mind the facts. The scare tactics of the gun lobby were based on outright lies. And that's how we do gun policy in the U.S. The corporate gun lobby screams "registration". They lie about what is in the actual bill language and then they scare legislators into doing their bidding. And meanwhile, lives are being lost.


Those legislators should look at some facts about what happened in their state after they got rid of a common sense gun measure. Why is it that facts don't matter? This one should. What happened in Missouri after the legislature repealed the requirement for gun buyers to have a permit to purchase a gun? Let's take a look ( from the article):
A new study has found that around 60 more people have been murdered each year since the state of Missouri made it easier to buy a handguns without going through a background check.
In the study which will be published in an issue of the Journal of Urban Health, a team of researchers led by Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research Director Daniel Webster found that between 55 to 63 more people were murdered each year after Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase (PTP) handgun law in 2007.
“This study provides compelling confirmation that weaknesses in firearm laws lead to deaths from gun violence,” Webster said in a press release. “There is strong evidence to support the idea that the repeal of Missouri’s handgun purchaser licensing law contributed to dozens of additional murders in Missouri each year since the law was changed.”
After the law was repealed, unlicensed sellers were no longer required to perform background checks before selling their guns.
While murders in Missouri spiked between 2007 and 2012, bordering states experienced no significant increases. And the overall murder rate in the U.S. declined by 5 percent during that same period.
Laws or the lack thereof, matter. Does anyone in Missouri care about these lost lives?

What kind of communities do we want? At some point it should be obvious that America's public health and safety epidemic is of our own making. We can change it if we decide it's important enough. If you read Joe Nocera's regular column, the Ohh Shoot blog, the Kid Shootings blog, Walmart Shootings blog, and the many others, there are real people behind the names and numbers. Their voices have been silenced but we can speak for them.

And people shouldn't be "silenced" permanently by those wielding guns in public- just for playing loud music, walking with a hoodie on, texting in a movie theater or egging a car. This is not who we are as a country. There should be moral outrage. People are getting away with murder. It started in Florida when Governor Jeb Bush signed the first Stand Your Ground law and the corporate gun lobby hasn't stopped since. Now we are seeing how their agenda is playing out- with the deaths of innocent people while murderers are not facing consequences. This is not OK. The corporate gun lobby has been exposed for their cynical and dangerous view of the world.

And speaking of silencing voices take a look at this article about a CNN reporter who received death threats on Twitter for daring to talk about the Michael Dunn verdict. Should we be surprised? It is this same intolerance that leads to shooting people over texting, loud music, and hoodies. It's time to "stand our ground" against all of this intolerance. Here is the video of the CNN program I mentioned above:

This is not OK. It's time for a change to the conversation and the culture of gun violence. There is a real life drama performed every day before our very eyes. As the players, we can act for change and a better end to the play. We can do better than this as a country. Tell Congress to act for change and act to save lives. Let's get to work.


Speaking of trying to silence voices, take a look at these offensive comments from NRA Board member Ted Nugent who just doesn't know when to keep quiet:
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer condemned Nugent for calling President Obama a "subhuman mongrel" in a February 18 segment discussing the controversy surrounding his activities in Texas. Blitzer said that the phrase "subhuman mongrel" is similar to the German word "untermensch," which is "what the Nazis called Jews ... to justify the genocide of the Jewish community."
Responding to CNN on Twitter on February 19, Nugent described the network as "Joseph Goebbells Saul Alinsky propaganda ministry mongrels," adding, "@WolfBlitzer is a journalist & Im a gay pirate from Cuba"
In another tweet, Nugent complained that "So much media has lost its soul lying Saul Alinsky Joseph Geobbells freaks."
Great stuff Nugent. Keep it up. I'm sure you will do a great job of influencing elections and gaining friends amongst the media and the electorate.


  1. Dear readers, I write this to disabuse a notion of at least one of my readers who knows his comments won't be published but he sends them anyway. He told me that the Washington Post said that Stand Your Ground was not a factor in the Michael Dunn case. The trouble is, it wasn't the Washington Post, it was an article printed in the Washington Post written by a noted gun rights advocate, David Kopel, of the Cato Institute- not exactly a neutral source. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/02/17/stand-your-ground-had-nothing-to-do-with-the-dunn-verdict-in-florida/ So let's make sure we have the facts straight. The Washington Post did not come out with this statement as it represented their editorial staff. Of course, there are many sources that say the opposite. The fact that there have been so many of these cases coming out of Florida which has this law must make the gun rights extremists nervous. The general public does not look favorably on a law that allows for these kind of outcomes.

  2. Japete, SYG laws have become the "target" of the anti-gun movement and unfortunately there have been some "gun owners" that have made criminal mistakes that has given ammo to the anti-gun movement. Now, you and others in the anti-gun movement that are still able to think need to stand up and do something to help prevent such things. Lets look at the Dunn case. He was convicted of "attempted murder in the 2nd degree" and will probably get to spend the vast majority of his life in prison for his criminal mistake. One of the first lessons of gun usage for self defense is when the threat is over your justification is over. When the van was moving away Dunn and Dunn fired those last three shots, he became a criminal. Now, how many times have we all heard people say "make sure the bad is dead so he can not testify against you" or "if you shoot someone in your yard drag that body in the door:". Some people are actually un-informed enough to believe such things. A little bit of truth on things like "what justifies use of dealy force" and "why do we shoot to STOP and not to kill" would go a long way in reducing such events. You would also find that when you make you goal to prevent harm you would get a lot of support from gun owners. Maybe a good start would be to add some educational advice in your postings, rather than just being "anti-"
    I think that we are also mis-leading when we speak of "duty to retreat" as what SYG is all about. The "no duty to retreat" is only one very small part of the law and in most places was the common understanding before SYG laws were passed.

    1. I can agree to some of what you say Topcat. I am not anti-gun. Let's get that straight right away. I am anti gun violence. I am against SYG laws. I don't believe they are necessary and they are proving to be a real problem, to say the least. There are a lot of misleading things being said and not just by those on my side.

  3. I agree that both sides are more than capable of saying misleading things. I am anti-criminal violence rather than just trying to think that a gun needs to be involved. We probably agree that whether required by law or not, if there is a way to safely retreat and avoid violence that is what should be done. I know that is exactly what the tactical classes that I have been in teach. I think that if someone is cleared of criminal mis-conduct in a self defense event, they should not be subject to civil claims, for me that is the important part of SYG laws. Also, I do not think that any one during such a crisis, can always find all of the possible ways to retreat. Like, is that door 20 feet back unlocked? Am I going to be stabbed if I turn and try for that door?
    For me the only answer that is effective is more education and more informational material presented to the population at large. We all know to look both ways before crossing the street, do we all know how to tell if a gun is loaded? Just as a lot of the accomplishments to reduce drunk driving fatalities was done with media education and education in schools/churches.