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, February 25, 2014

Umbrellas as guns and other gun news

Sometimes, apparently, umbrellas can be used as guns. And not in a James Bond movie. It's a real life shooting in Seattle by a man with a "trick umbrella." Guns are so ubiquitous in our society that there are now more and more creative ways of using and concealing them. I do love some of the comments at the end of this article. Clever. The thing is, guns are dangerous and joking about shootings is just not OK. But that is what our American gun culture has become. People in other countries do actually laugh about our gun culture. They don't know what else to do. If you don't laugh, you would cry for sure. And that's a sad commentary on us. Of course, we all know that umbrellas are designed to protect us from wet weather. But who is going to protect us from umbrellas used as guns? I'm just asking.

In other news, a new technology in guns, providing the owner with a wrist watch to activate it, is now on the market in California.
One of California’s largest firearm stores recently added a peculiar new gun to its shelves. It requires an accessory: a black waterproof watch.
The watch’s primary purpose is not to provide accurate time, though it does. The watch makes the gun think. Electronic chips inside the gun and the watch communicate with each other. If the watch is within close reach of the gun, a light on the grip turns green. Fire away. No watch means no green light. The gun becomes a paperweight.
(Armatix) - The Armatix Smart System consists of a pistol and a watch that controls gun access and use. The gun will only fire if it is within range of this watch.
A dream of gun-control advocates for decades, the Armatix iP1 is the country’s first smart gun. Its introduction is seen as a landmark in efforts to reduce gun violence, suicides and accidental shootings. Proponents compare smart guns to automobile air bags — a transformative add-on that gun owners will demand. But gun rights advocates are already balking, wondering what happens if the technology fails just as an intruder breaks in.
James Mitchell, the “extremely pro-gun” owner of the Oak Tree Gun Club, north of Los Angeles, isn’t one of the skeptics. His club’s firearms shop is the only outlet in the country selling the iP1. “It could revolutionize the gun industry,” Mitchell declared.
So not every "extremely pro-gun" person is against common sense. And the NRA's view? Read below:
Although National Rifle Associationofficials did not respond to requests for comment about smart-gun technology, the group fiercely opposes “government mandates that require the use of expensive, unreliable features, such as grips that would read your fingerprints before the gun will fire,” according to the Web site of its lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action. “And NRA recognizes that the ‘smart guns’ issue clearly has the potential to mesh with the anti-gunner’s agenda, opening the door to a ban on all guns that do not possess the government-required technology.”
Oops. I guess safety isn't at the top of the priorities list for the NRA leaders and lobbyists. As always, they have turned a good idea in technology into their deceptive rhetoric in calling people like me "anti-gunner" and concluding that doing anything by way of gun safety will, of course, lead to gun bans.


In other news about gun rights, the Supreme Court is going to stay out of the argument for now. The justices turned down several cases brought to them:
The Supreme Court refused Monday to consider any new cases seeking to expand gun rights, including two challenges to restrictions on young adults.
The decision does not preclude the court eventually agreeing to consider the next big legal issue in the national debate over guns: whether the right to keep a gun at home for self-defense extends to public places.
In fact, a federal appeals court panel's divided ruling this month in a California case makes it more likely that the question of guns outside the home will be heading to the high court soon.
The petitions denied Monday included challenges to a federal and a state law restricting access to young adults. The federal law blocks those ages 18 to 20 from buying guns from licensed dealers. The Texas law doesn't allow them to carry guns in public, as others can do with a license.
Ever since Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for a divided court in 2008 that the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects the right to possess guns at home, the question of public places has been looming. Many states impose restrictions, such as requiring a demonstrated need to carry a gun, whether concealed or in plain sight. Most lower courts have upheld those restrictions.
Sure- why not let 18-20 year olds carry deadly weapons around with them legally? I mean- we don't let them drink legally. We know they do anyway but we are not making it easy. I can't get the picture out of my mind of teens of this age drinking at a party while carrying their loaded guns. It's not pretty. Here's another solution looking for a problem. Plus, of course, it opens up a new market for gun sales. Public safety be damned. The corporate gun lobby sure has some bad ideas for keeping our country safer.

Chris Hayes (All In) on MSNBC did a feature about this law suit against Texas by the gun lobby. You can watch the segment using the link, above. On the show Hayes interviewed the correspondent from HBO's Real Sports, Jon Frankel. Frankel talked about the disconnect concerning protecting teens from the many potentially dangerous products/services and not doing the same for guns. Below is a video from the Real Sports feature, Guns for Kids, about how easy it is for teens to access guns.

Yes, you did see that right. A 13 year old boy who was involved in this HBO Real Sports special feature walked into a Virginia gun show and bought a gun from a private seller with cash. The seller didn't ask how old he was or for any ID. The boy walked out with a .22 hunting rifle. Now I am not against kids of this age learning to hunt. My husband was about that age when he started hunting with his family. But he didn't go to a gun store and buy a gun on his own. I'm sure the seller assumed the boy would use this gun safely while hunting, hopefully with adult supervision.

The point here is that in America we are trying to protect kids and teens from products that we have determined would be harmful to them. Something is different when it comes to guns. Guns are deadly when in the wrong hands and sometimes even in the hands of those who, in a moment of rage, jealousy, consumption of too much alcohol, or irresponsibility didn't intend for something tragic to happen. We need a national discussion about how we can make our kids, teens and all of us, safer from the gun violence that is pervasive in our communities. One way, of course, is to require background checks on all gun sales at gun shows and the Internet, at the least. The NICS background check system makes it illegal for anyone under 21 to legally purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer. Long guns have different requirements. In most states, the legal purchase age is 18 but a few require a buyer to be only 16. Federal law prohibits those under 18 from legally purchasing a long gun or rifle. And yes, those cute .22 caliber rifles, meant for kids, have been known to kill children.

Speaking of guns, alcohol and irresponsibility, here is a sad case that should draw no clever comments- a man shot himself in his Michigan home while demonstrating gun safety. He died of the gunshot injuries. Guns are dangerous, of course. Don't we all know that? And don't folks who buy them for protection at home fully understand the serious responsibility of gun safety in and outside of the home? I'm just asking because I'm befuddled about why these things keep happening. Should training be mandatory before someone walks away from a gun dealer with a deadly weapon? People who buy cars have to show their driver's license. Getting the license comes with hours of training. Should insurance be mandatory just like it is for cars? People driving irresponsibly can cause serious injuries and deaths to themselves and others. But I digress. Here is more from the article, linked above, about this tragic and avoidable incident that took the life of a man:
The victim’s live-in girlfriend told deputies that her 36-year-old boyfriend had been demonstrating the safety of his three handguns by holding them to his head and pulling the trigger.
The third gun fired and he was struck in the head.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. His name was not immediately released.
Three children were also in the house at the time of the shooting, but sheriff’s officials say none of them were injured or witnessed the shooting.  Authorizes said the kids were not the victims’ biological children.
An autopsy will be performed by the Oakland County Medical Examiner as an investigation continues. The girlfriend said the victim had been drinking most of the day, and sheriff’s officials said alcohol appears to have been a factor in the shooting.
Don't law abiding gun owners know that guns and alcohol don't mix? I'm just asking. I write often on this blog about shootings involving too much alcohol consumption.

In other news, some Florida legislators want to expand the Stand Your Ground law In light of recent high profile shootings involving Stand Your Ground laws in Florida this seems like a bad idea. I wonder where anyone would get this idea? From this article:
Despite years of negative publicity over Florida's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law, lawmakers are close to expanding it to protect gunmen who fire warning shots or wave weapons in a threatening manner—and they're doing it with a bill written by a top NRA lobbyist, Gawker has learned.
The bill is sponsored chiefly by two National Rifle Association members, Republicans Sen. Greg Evers and Rep. Neil Combee, with a longstanding history of support for the gun lobby. But they did not write the bill, one of the legislators told Gawker in an interview: That honor fell to former NRA president and current gun lobbyist Marion Hammer.
That revelation is just the latest chapter in Hammer's nearly four-decade NRA career, marked by ever-expanding pro-gun laws in Florida that become model legislation for other states. She was instrumental in the state becoming the first to issue across-the-board concealed weapons permits to residents in the '80s, and she almost singlehandedly created Stand Your Ground in 2005 in similar fashion, feeding language for the bill to its two sponsors—one of whom was Evers' immediate predecessor in the Senate.
Now, she's put her imprint on a bill that would allow Floridians to openly brandish guns for the first time, and could lead to more permissive open-carry laws or lighter requirements for licensing in the future.
Ah. The NRA wrote the bill. Now I understand. The bill would allow people to shoot a bullet into the air if the shooter "feels" in danger from another. So where the bullet falls back down is apparently not of concern to these folks. What happens to any innocent lives taken by these stray bullets? Are these questions considered while deliberating the bill? I'm just asking.

The only way ideas like expanding Stand Your Ground laws can be defeated is for the people who believe, like me, that we can prevent gun injuries and deaths by passing stronger gun laws, not weaken the ones we have. But sometimes the noisy minority gets their way against what makes common sense.

Speaking of the noisy minority, this Kansas tea party candidate for U.S. Senate has apparently not figured out that posting images of victims of gun injuries is in bad taste and nothing to be lighthearted about. As a Physician, surely he should know better than this. Some people have no common sense. From the article:
Wolf posted a 3D image of a gunshot wound to a victim's head according to excerpts published by the Capital-Journal. When one commenter asked why the head wasn't straight on the image, Wolf wrote, "it's not like the patient was going to complain."
And when a later commenter said he wished that Wolf had instead posted a 3D medical image of breast augmentation, Wolf joked back.
"Ha! Jeff, now that was funny. Just be glad I'm not a gastroenterologist then," he wrote.
So let's review. A "trick umbrella" can double as a gun surprising people with deadly bullets. A wrist watch can serve as a "smart gun" potentially making our communities safer from gun violence. The corporate gun lobby opposes such common sense products. At the same time, the same gun lobby is trying to make it easier for more people to be shot by people firing bullets into the air if they have the slightest notion that they may be in danger. Innocent people could die. Never mind. The same gun lobby wants 18-20 year olds to legally carry guns in public. Private gun sellers can legally sell 13 year olds guns because this is the American gun culture. Tea party candidates for political office post X-ray images of gun violence victim injuries and make jokes about the images. Cynical. And a "law abiding" gun owner who had been drinking demonstrated gun safety to others in his house and killed himself with one of 3 guns he pointed at his head.

If you think this is the gun culture that we want, raise your hand. We can do better than this as a country if we start demanding the changes we deserve and want. Let's get to work.


  1. "A wrist watch can serve as a "smart gun" potentially making our communities safer from gun violence. The corporate gun lobby opposes such common sense products."

    Not just the gun lobby, later in the article the Violence Policy Center is also quoted as opposing this technology. Their opposition stems from the possibility of attracting new gun owners with this safety technology.

    So let's review. Advocates for firearm rights and firearm restriction consider this technology untrustworthy. Much like any other technology on the product marketplace, smart gun technology must go through a process of "natural selection". If the technology is sound and accepted/demanded by consumers, it will become more of a standard feature in the marketplace. The bottom line for this technology is that it will take time, not governmental intervention, to prove itself. The first small step has been taken by a number of companies, now it's up to consumers to react.

  2. What Guy points out above is true. Not all "safety" features pan out in the end. Take for example automatic seat belts. It was thought that these would lead to greater safety and several cars started coming with them. However, future studies showed that the automatic seat belt led to fewer people using the lap portion of the belt and actually made the cars less safe. Therefore, the automatic belts are no longer offered in cars.

    As for this technology, it will need to prove that it is effective and reliable. When local police departments start using these guns for their officers, then I will be satisfied that the technology works.