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, March 1, 2014

Satire exposes the gun lobby's agenda

There are days when it's very hard to know where to start. Today is one of them. There are facts about guns that the gun rights extremists don't want us to know. The facts are that people with guns are acting irresponsibly at an ever increasing rate. With more guns around, that is inevitable. And we do have more guns around in homes and in public than ever before. We have more people applying for gun permits than ever before. In Minnesota the number has doubled in the last year. What this means to me is that those folks who may or may not actually carry guns around with them in public ( some don't even own guns but got permits anyway) will eventually and inevitably be involved in some sort of shooting incident. They carry because they feel as if there is danger around every corner. Or is that the real reason? From the linked article above:
"Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows attributes last year's increase to a combination of factors, including the November 2012 presidential election. It is not unusual to see a bump in applications in the months leading up to and following a presidential election, he said.
"We noticed that there was spike back in 2008-09, and we saw the same spike this time to a much greater extent," he said. "I think that was part of it. And I'm not trying to be political about this, but it seems like with the election and re-election of the president, there seems to have been a response to that."
Rothman believes the sharp increase in 2013 was caused by two things: the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 first-graders and six adults, and the calls that followed for tighter restrictions on guns in Minnesota and across the nation.
During last year's legislative session in Minnesota, gun-rights advocates fought off measures to tighten gun laws, including bans on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as expansion of background checks.
Lawmakers filled holes in Minnesota's criminal background check system by speeding transfers of certain records in the database used to determine whether a person can own a gun.
Karl Seidel of St. Paul got his permit to carry for the first time last year. He'd done target shooting on private property or a gun range in the past, which doesn't require a permit to carry.
Last year, Seidel said, "there seemed to be a lot more action going on (at the Legislature) to curtail certain aspects of our gun-ownership rights," and he was spurred to apply for a carry permit. He hasn't started carrying a gun but said it was important to exercise his right to get a permit so he can carry a gun if he chooses.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School murders in 2012 influenced people's interest in arming themselves for self-defense, Rothman said.
"It made them realize that to a large extent, in the moment, you're on your own," he said. "Police officers almost always arrive only in time to draw the chalk lines."
Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota, a gun-violence prevention organization, said studies have shown that having a gun in a home "raises the risk, especially in situations of domestic violence, that someone is going to be killed."
A recent survey conducted by the University of Minnesota Center for Survey Research found 43.5 percent of Minnesota households surveyed reported having a firearm in the home, compared with 48 percent in 2008, Martens said.
"What I see happening is the firearms industry has a challenge," she said. "Overall, fewer people own guns, hunting is on the decline. They have a problem. In order to continue to profit, they have to market their product in a different way. They market handguns as a way to be safe. ... The cost of that is that people are bringing a gun into the home or taking these classes, believing that a gun will make them safe.""
Ah. If only someone in that Newtown elementary school had had a gun. He/she would have absolutely stopped the shooter. Of course. Those permit holders are always accurate with their weapons. They have as much training as police officers. Their guns would always be accessible at just the right moment. They wouldn't panic and try to save themselves instead of facing down a shooter with an assault rifle bent on killing everyone who moved. That person wouldn't think to get themselves and the children to a safe place to keep the shooter from shooting more of them? That permit holder would "save the day" and go down fighting while leaving more people vulnerable to the shooter. So far, permit holders have not managed to stop mass shooters in public places when there was one who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. But if every adult carried a gun, perhaps that could actually happen. But then, how we would know who was the "good guy" with a gun and who was the "bad guy" with the gun? I'm just asking. And just think of the increased sale of guns if the gun lobby convinced us all we just MUST carry a gun around to be safe from the bad guys. But I digress.

The truth of the matter is that the danger is more likely to come from themselves as the gun bought and carried ostensibly for self defense is used in an accidental shooting or discharge, a suicide or a domestic homicide. The actual danger has nothing to do with the election and re-election of President Obama even if the gun lobby wants us to believe that nonsense. Remember that most mass shooters obtained their guns from their own family members ( obtained legally) or from legal purchases.

The Daily Kos is keeping track of shootings and this week wrote about all of the "accidental" discharges of guns, some resulting in injuries to others. Here is a look at what they found:
It was a wild week, and we're back in the normal expected range of 40-50 stories this time around, after a few quiet weeks. Twenty people were found to have accidentally shot themselves; seven people made the news cleaning loaded guns; six law enforcement officers were involved in gun whoopsies; five selfless patriots made their fellow citizens safer by accidentally discharging their weapons while shopping, dining or running other routine errands (and four of them were licensed concealed carriers, supposedly "specially trained" to avoid these things); and five more decided to share their freedom missiles with neighbors. Four others had gun accidents while fiddling with and/or showing off their guns for no particular reason, four practicing at the range accidentally shot themselves or others (in one case, someone half a mile away), two accidentally shot humans while hunting, and two more accidentally shot themselves while producing weapons for what they said was defensive use.
Among the standouts were one of our two patriots who somehow forgot their constant companions and lifelines to freedom, and left them behind. In this case, a Colorado state legislator who left his loaded pistol behind in a canvas bag, underneath the table where he'd been seated for a hearing on expanding concealed carry laws, since concealed carriers are so awesome and safe and stuff.
There were a number of stories originally picked up as accidental shootings last week, but that on further examination were called into some question. Included among them, this episode from River Hills, WI, in which a man was said to have accidentally shot himself. Later, it was reported more ambiguously as a case of a man who was cleaning a gun, and then began “handling it in a careless manner,” How so? "River Hills police say Gifford placed one round in the gun, and 'made random and reckless statements about the weapon and its use.'" This resulted in a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled this death a suicide. So, how do you count that one? Intentional? Russian Roulette? Accident? I don't know, so I left it out of the count.
You can read the rest for yourself. It is not a pretty picture. And please note that the incidents written about here are almost all incidents of shootings by "law abiding" gun owners. One is law abiding until one isn't. It happens in a few seconds of carelessness, anger, jealousy, depression, irresponsibility. Senseless. These incidents belie the corporate gun lobby's mantra that more "more guns make us safer", that "guns don't kill people, people do" and that "an armed society is a polite society". Common sense tells us that these things just can't be true. And the articles I linked back that up.

As my readers know, I often quote Joe Nocera's The Gun Report in my posts. Here is from his latest post:
 With a bill allowing students and staff to carry guns on Idaho’scollege campuses making its way through the state legislature, Greg Hampikian, a professor of biology and criminal justice at Boise State University, asks today in a Times Op-Ed, “When may I shoot a student?” The column, styled as a letter to the state legislature, continued, “Now that we’ll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction in the rules of classroom engagement. … If I am working out a long equation on the board and several students try to correct me using their laser sights, am I allowed to fire a warning shot?”
At a public hearing on the bill, Boise’s police chief, who expressed grave concerns over the legislation, was not allowed to testify—but an N.R.A. spokesperson was allowed to speak for 40 minutes. More than 200 people protested against the bill on the Capitol steps yesterday.
• The N.R.A. sent a letter to Senate leaders urging them to rejectDr. Vivek Murthy, the president’s nominee for Surgeon General, over his belief that gun violence presents a major public health threat. The N.R.A. specifically criticized Murthy’s stance that doctors should ask patients about gun ownership and discuss gun safety procedures, his belief that more federal funding should be allocated for gun violence research, and his support for universal background checks and an assault weapons ban.
“Dr. Murthy’s record of political activism in support of radical gun control measures raises significant concerns about his ability to objectively examine issues pertinent to America’s 100 million firearm owners and the likelihood that he would use the office of the Surgeon General to further his preexisting campaign against gun ownership,” the letter read. Most major doctors’ groups treat gun violence as a public health concern.
This bears repeating: "...in support of radical gun control measures..." So now, being in favor of public safety is radical? Will the gun rights extremists ( radicals themselves- see my recent post about this) get away with this nonsensical rhetoric? Will lawmakers call them out for saying that people who support reasonable measures to keep guns away from those who shouldn't have them is radical? We can hope. So now, according to the common "wisdom" of the gun rights extremists, a Physician, interested in keeping his/her patients safe from accidents and disease, is radical for talking about the risks of guns in the home? I call this folly. And what happened to not wanting the government to interfere in these types of decisions? I call that hypocrisy. But I digress.

I recommend reading the entire opinion piece written by Idaho Professor Hampikian in opposition to the ubiquitous push for guns on college campuses. From his piece:
I am a biology professor, not a lawyer, and I had never considered bringing a gun to work until now. But since many of my students are likely to be armed, I thought it would be a good idea to even the playing field.
I have had encounters with disgruntled students over the years, some of whom seemed quite upset, but I always assumed that when they reached into their backpacks they were going for a pencil. Since I carry a pen to lecture, I did not feel outgunned; and because there are no working sharpeners in the lecture hall, the most they could get off is a single point. But now that we’ll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction in the rules of classroom engagement. (...) 
In terms of the campus murder rate — zero at present — I think that we can all agree that guns don’t kill people, people with guns do. Which is why encouraging guns on campus makes so much sense. Bad guys go where there are no guns, so by adding guns to campus more bad guys will spend their year abroad in London. Britain has incredibly restrictive laws — their cops don’t even have guns! — and gun deaths there are a tiny fraction of what they are in America. It’s a perfect place for bad guys.
Some of my colleagues are concerned that you are encouraging firearms within a densely packed concentration of young people who are away from home for the first time, and are coincidentally the age associated with alcohol and drug experimentation, and the commission of felonies.
Once again, this reflects outdated thinking about students. My current students have grown up learning responsible weapon use through virtual training available on the Xbox and PlayStation. Far from being enamored of violence, many studies have shown, they are numb to it. These creative young minds will certainly be stimulated by access to more technology at the university, items like autoloaders, silencers and hollow points. I am sure that it has not escaped your attention that the library would make an excellent shooting range, and the bookstore could do with fewer books and more ammo choices.
This artfully written editorial has caught the attention of a lot of people as well it should have. The agenda of the "radical" gun rights extremists is on plain view in states all over America. But in their zeal to weaken our gun laws, they forget that their own are causing an awful lot of carnage and potential danger to public safety. They forget that we can see through their flawed arguments. The evidence is in plain sight. Check out this recent incident in Ohio:
A Lucas County sheriff’s deputy who has been disciplined in the past for inattention to his job could face additional sanctions for allowing a handgun to get through security screening at Toledo Municipal Court.
Deputy Barry Disalle, 68, was working the screening area at the court entrance Feb. 10 when he apparently became distracted and did not see a small semiautomatic handgun at the bottom of a woman’s purse, said Rob Sarahman, an investigator with the sheriff’s internal-affairs unit.
According to an incident report, the deputy noticed an image of the gun in the purse later on the X-ray machine about 2:30 p.m. and located the woman carrying it in the lobby area outside the city prosecutor’s office. A man with her said the gun was his and that he had a concealed carry permit, according to the report.
“If there is an upside, nobody got shot. Nobody got hurt,” Sheriff John Tharp said. “They were extremely cooperative when we confronted them about the weapon.”
Could there be an "upside" to this carelessness? Why was the woman carrying a gun belonging to someone else with a permit to carry that gun? Is that legal? Why was she even thinking she could carry a gun into a courthouse, one of the few places we have decided guns are not desired? More from the article:
While neither the man nor the woman was charged in the incident, the matter has been turned over to the city prosecutor’s office. Sheriff Tharp said weapons — even legal ones — are not permitted in the courthouse, and it also is illegal to allow someone else to carry your gun.
Ah. Will the permit holder and the gun carrier be charged with a crime or will they get a slap on the hand? Will the permit be suspended for the man who held it? Time will tell. Allowing guns carried in public is just not working out as the gun lobby predicted. People who carry guns don't like the inconvenience of having to lock up their guns in their cars or not carry them when they go into a place where guns are not allowed. What about the inconvenience of an accidental gun discharge or an intentional shooting? For that is what is actually happening in real life. The proof is before our very eyes.

Pushing the carrying of guns in public places is a bad idea for many obvious reasons. In the face of the daily shootings, it makes absolutely no sense. Just look at what the Daily Kos and The Gun Report are reporting on a regular basis. How will a gun for self defense in public protect us from permit holders' irresponsibility? How will a gun for self defense in the home protect a child from getting access to said gun and shooting him/herself or someone else? How will a gun for self defense be used to protect women from domestic abusers? The evidence is clear that the opposite is true:
A recent meta-analysis concluded what many people already knew: the availability of firearms is a strong risk factor for both homicide and suicide. But the study came to another conclusion that is rarely mentioned in the gun control debate: females are uniquely impacted by the availability of a firearm. Indeed, the study found that women with access to firearms become homicide victims at significantly higher rates than men.
It has long been recognized that higher rates of gun availability correlate with higher rates of female homicide. Women in the United States account for 84 percent of all female firearm victims in the developed world, even though they make up only a third of the developed world’s female population. And within American borders, women die at higher rates from suicide, homicide, and accidental firearm deaths in states where guns are more widely available. This is true even after controlling for factors such as urbanization, alcohol use, education, poverty, and divorce rates.  
The gun lobby does not want us to know the truth about the risks of guns in public and in the home. But the truth is being told anyway.

We got numbed after Columbine, after Virginia Tech, after a series of mass shootings over the past years. But after Sandy Hook things are different. If we can't pass sensible gun laws after the heinous massacre of 20 small children, there is something very wrong. And what's wrong is the mythical but powerful influence of a gun lobby fighting for what they believe is a way of life, their freedoms and an industry that sells the very weapons of mass destruction causing the problems. Meanwhile, the rest of us are less safe in our homes and in public. We are better than this. It's time for a change to our gun policies and our gun culture. Let's get to work.


  1. Where would you like to start your common sense discussion? Lets start with facts, because liberals often forget those...

    "so far a permit holder hasn't stopped a mass shooting" - really? they do it all the time, and when they do, it's no longer a mass shooting. Look up Clackamas Mall in 2012, Pearl High School, or Appalachian Law School.

    "folks who may or may not actually carry guns around ....will eventually and inevitably be involved in some sort of shooting incident" - with 100 million guns in the world and over 6 million people with permits, the numbers alone prove you wrong. Please use your 'common sense'.

    "(satire)Those permit holders are always accurate with their weapons. They have as much training as police officers" - then please explain how the police shoot an innocent bystander 11% of the time and permit holders only 2% (FBI crime statistics). Many citizens actually practice shooting much more than the police, many of whom put just 50 rounds downrange a year to qualify. I know I do.

    " the danger is more likely to come from themselves as the gun bought and carried ostensibly for self defense is used in an accidental shooting or discharge, a suicide or a domestic homicide" - really?!?! you are going to trot out this false argument that's been proven wrong by every study under the sun except the fraudulent 'Mother Jones'?

    Again, if you want to have a common sense discussion then start by learning the facts, and then we will talk....

    1. Of course there is no evidence that the permit holder at the Clackamas Mall actually got the shooter to stop. He asserted that he did but no one saw him with his gun so we only know what he said. He didn't stop the shooting in the first place before anyone was killed or injured. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clackamas_Town_Center_shooting)

      The Pearl, Mississippi shooter may have stopped when the principal got his gun out but not before he had already killed and injured the victims. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_High_School_shooting)

      Interestingly, the Appalachian Law school shooter was tackled by the folks who said they pointed a gun at him- also not before he had already killed the victims. ( http://www.foxnews.com/story/2002/01/17/law-students-tackled-gunman-held-him-down-until-police-arrived/) They waited for police to arrive to take care of the shooter.

      A number of mass shooters have been stopped from doing further damage by people without guns who have talked them down, or hit them with objects, etc. Probably just as many as those who have claimed to stop shooters with their guns.

      Even those with permits, such as police officers who are trained in these kind of shootings, can't stop a shooter who shoots at them. The Tacoma coffee shop shooting is a prime example of how law abiding gun owners could not stop a shooter from killing 4 of them who were armed. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakewood,_Washington_police_officer_shooting) The same is true in the Pittsburgh mass shooting of 3 officers who were ambushed by a crazed man in a domestic situation ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Pittsburgh_police_shootings) Interestingly from the linked article " When the operator asked Ms. Poplawski if her son had weapons, she responded yes, and stated that they were all legal."

      The truth is that no one with a permit has stopped a mass shooting in the first place. Perhaps you read what I wrote wrong.

  2. Actually, there are about 8 million gun permit holders ( conservative estimate) in the U.S. and 300 million guns ( estimated) http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323689204578573763575086702

    The percentage of CCW holders committing crimes and killing or injuring someone is low percentage wise. But remember, when one of these folks makes a mistake, it can be fatal. The Violence Policy Center keeps track of CCW killers since 2007 are 622. http://www.vpc.org/ccwkillers.htm
    That may seem small to you Jeff but not to the victims. There shouldn't be mistakes made by CCW holders. Guns are dangerous. Those with permits to carry loaded guns should be law abiding and extremely careful in public with their guns. As you can see by this post and the following one, there are a lot of incidents showing otherwise. The U.S. population above 18 yrs. of age ( couldn't find it for 21 so that would be less than this number) is about 240,257,917. If about 8 million eligible Americans carry guns, that''s about 3-4% of the population. For this small minority of Americans we have changed our laws to allow them to carry loaded guns. The rest of us are not interested. The laws should consider the number of deaths and other incidents of this minority and whether the risk is worth it for the rest of us. We are talking about human lives and public safety.

  3. Let me begin by saying I applaud your posting of my response. The vast majority of progressives refuse to engage in any type of dialog and will censor or shout down anyone who disagrees with them.

    You can stop a shooter with a variety of objects as you've shown, but taking a knife (or a rock or stick) to a gun fight puts you at a distinct disadvantage. In Clackamas, now we don't have to believe a police report? Why is it so hard for an anti to believe a guy with a gun put an end to the ordeal? Further, now you say it's up to those that carry firearms to stop all deaths, not just reduce the numbers that may have been killed? Lets be realistic. Claiming we "changed our law to allow citizens to carry loaded guns" is also absurd. The last time the right to bear arms was changed was over 200 years ago, and it's still the same. Once again you've twisted the facts and play with words to fit your agenda...

    If you want to play a numbers game the deaths accidentally killed by CCW holders are almost 6 times lower than accidentally by the police. Why? A report by G. Morrison of 300 police departments shows more than half train only 1 or 2 times a year with firearms. Most gun owners I shoot with practice their shooting skills monthly, if not weekly. If you want to take guns away from people start with your public servants. They've showed a true lack of skill.

    Engineers such as myself make mistakes that cost lives, doctors make mistakes all the time too. How many parents left a bucket filled with water and came back 30 seconds later to find a child drown? The fact is that the good continues to outweighs the bad, and we as a society continue to allow police to patrol, doctors to practice, engineers to build bridges, parents to own buckets, and citizens to defend themselves. The net result is our lives as a whole are better. We don't close hospitals, shut down highways or ban buckets, we learn from these incidents and try to improve. As an aside, we license doctors, we license engineers, police are certified, and we license gun carriers to make sure they are up to the standards set by society & their peers. Maybe we need to license parents too; where do you draw the line? As I've said before, for liberals it's all about control!

    Just because you fail to see the net result of any of the above as positive, does not mean it isn't true. Numbers don't lie, and Americans agree with me as evidenced by the lack of change; you are in the minority. The reality is fatal mistakes are made every day in all aspects of living, it's called life. We do our best to try and reduce them, but they will never be eliminated, except in a progressives perfect world of rainbows and unicorns where clouds are made of cotton candy, everything is rose colored, and people live forever....

    1. You are absolutely right, Jeff. Numbers don't lie. 75% of NRA members and gun owners support background checks on all gun sales. Frank Luntz, Republican pollster found this number to be consistent in 2 polls taken in 2011 and 2012 before the Sandy Hook shootings. http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/07/24/577091/nra-members-agree-regulating-guns-makes-sense/#
      You must be in the 25% who don't support background checks. That puts you in a distinct minority of Americans. 90% of the public support background checks and that is high after Sandy Hook. Typically over many years of polling, that number has hovered around 80-82% support. I have been doing this for a long time so I know the polling numbers. http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/poll-9-10-americans-still-support-gun
      Apparently you are in the distinct minority, again, of 10% who do not support background checks on all gun sales.
      54 U.S. Senators voted to require background checks at gun shows and through Internet sales. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/04/17/senate-roll-call-vote-gun-background-checks/2091625/ The co-sponsors of the bill are A-rated NRA supporters. By any other standard, that is a majority but because we require a super majority, it did not meet the 60 vote requirement.
      About 185 U.S. House members have signed on to the background check bill now languishing in the House. I believe there are more than this by now. That's a pretty good number supporting background checks. The House leadership won't bring it to a vote. Why? Lord only knows. Fear of the gun lobby.

      I don't blame them. Contrary to what you have been led to believe, I and my colleagues, are not "anti" gun. I grew up in a hunting gun owning family- very much a part of my life. I was taught to shoot a hunting gun. I didn't care for it. My husband is a hunter. We own hunting guns which are safely locked up where they should be.

      You seem to think we are doing this to punish you. In my many years of doing this work, I have met victims and survivors of mass shootings, domestic shootings, accidental shootings and suicides. I hear their stories. That is why we do this. We don't want more families to go through this.

    2. Continued-

      Since you are new to this blog, you have missed a lot of "discussion" over the years. I don't publish a lot of comments because, I, like many other bloggers and those who support gun violence prevention, receive rude, offensive, inane, and even threatening comments. They don't get published. I used to publish more comments but it was of little use. Gun rights extremists have tried to mock me by posting what I say on their blogs and then make fun of what I say. They have tried to intimidate and bully me- common for bloggers like me. So far, you haven't done that.

      I have thought long and hard about whether my sister could have defended herself the day she was shot to death by her estranged husband in a domestic shooting. She was taken totally by surprise according to the reports from law enforcement. She had no time to react. That is how most shootings happen. To think you can defend yourself against this is folly.

      As to permit holders, many states require absolutely NO TRAINING- not even a requirement to hold or shoot a gun. In Virginia, one can take the permit test on-line with no requirement to touch a gun. I don't call that good training. Maybe you and your buddies shoot a lot. That is uncommon. Most police departments require more than 1 or 2 trainings per year. Mine does. i don't know where you get that information. As to officers making more mistakes than permit holders, please provide me with something that shows that to be true. Not from one of your gun sites. Even USA Carry has provided this advise to permit holders- http://www.usacarry.com/7-common-mistakes-concealed-carry/ Not every gun owners i licensed- only about 3-4% of those eligible adults who carry actually get a license. Those who purchase guns at gun stores or from private sellers are not licensed and no training is required to purchase a gun. That is far different from those who drive cars, practice medicine, practice engineering, accounting, etc. ALL are required to be licensed. Why not ALL gun owners if we follow your logic to its' conclusion. Would you want an unlicensed engineer building a bridge? Remember the one that collapsed in Minneapolis? And by the way, the sone of one of my best friends died in that bridge collapse. Two of my family members are health care providers. They must be licensed to practice and have to be re-licensed on a regular basis. I worked in the local school system here. I had to renew my license every 5 years. Why not gun owners?

      The net result of our weak gun laws is 30,000 deaths per year and another 70,000 injured. I have not failed to see that as a net result. Americans don't agree with you as you can see by my numbers. Once we get the majority activated and organized, things will change. Your side has contributed much to the carnage as is evident by all of the real life examples I provide on this blog. What are you doing to try to reduce the accidents and shootings? I'm just not seeing it. Sorry. There is not a world of rainbows and unicorns in my world. There are real life victims and families who are devastated by the loss of a loved one. That is very real to me and my family and to the many others like mine. I know for a fact that people don't live forever. My sister's life was taken more than 20 years ago and I have missed her ever since. Believe me, it is not rose colored.