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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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Searching for the truth to make change

The theme for most of my blog posts is seeking change to the conversation- change to the gun culture- change to gun laws. It is not for the sake of change though. It is for the sake of saving lives. That is why I write this blog. In the years I have been writing there is a definite change to the landscape. There are more groups working to make this change happen. Twitter and Facebook, for example, are now very effective tools for sharing messaging, points of view, articles and campaigns. It's about time that gun violence prevention groups are organized and organizing for change. After the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, even more groups have emerged to put pressure on lawmakers to pass stronger gun laws. And with more people writing, blogging and posting on Internet sites, the truth is more often exposed about what the corporate gun lobby is doing to keep us in the dark about their true agenda- keeping more guns in our communities which results in more gun deaths and injuries. And that is the truth. From the linked article:
The notion that gun rights are basic civil and human rights is today at the very center of the movement's political and legal strategies. The idea literally hung over last weekend's GRPC proceedings in the form of a stage banner reading, "EQUAL GUN RIGHTS." Under it, speakers compared gun-policy reformers to segregationists and Nazis. Massad Ayoob, a Second Amendment Foundation board member, ended a defense of Stand Your Ground laws with Blackstone's statement that "self-defense is the highest of all human rights." John Lott, the pro-gun academic, spoke of gun taxes as modern day poll taxes. "We need a document on how high fees and licensing taxes reduce gun ownership and are discriminatory," he said. Alan Korwin, author of 13 books on guns, said reformers "want to treat [gun owners] like the Negroes at the lunch counter."
It's worth noting that Korwin is considered the Frank Luntz of the pro-gun movement. Lauded by multiple speakers, he is the author of a "politically corrected" gun glossary designed to focus the gun debate around a language of rights. This lexicon, he believes, is key in wooing America's growing Latino population, which he sees holding the line against the gun-reform youth edge. "Some form of amnesty is coming," said Korwin, "and when they become citizens, they get the Second Amendment. That's 20 million people able to buy a gun and go to a range. They're slaves in Mexico. They're gonna come here and find out what freedom is about and come over to our side." (...) 
"What came out of Newtown was the threat represented by Michael Bloomberg," said Jeff Knox, a World Net Daily columnist who heads the hardline Firearms Coalition. "The conglomeration of groups and forces he funds is the greatest threat that we face right now. We must make the name Bloomberg a poison pill in the political community, so that anything remotely related to his money is Dead On Arrival. We slammed him in Colorado, next is Virginia, where he's backing [Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry] McAuliffe."
Virginia's gubernatorial race is high on the pro-gun agenda. But the SAF and its network of lawyers and activist groups are active in all 50 states. They consider every inch of legislative ground in every one of them sacred turf. This includes even "hard cases" like New York, where SAF lawyers have filed suit against the SAFE Act, the law passed earlier this year in response to the Sandy Hook school shooting, which tightens the state's ban on assault weapons, requires background checks for every gun sale, and strengthens penalties for selling guns illegally. "You don't win battles by playing defense," said Gottlieb in his opening remarks before a state legislative affairs briefing. "We have a record number of bills in statehouses in blue states."
At the state level, the movement is on a roll. Speakers from a dozen states rattled off impressive records -- defeating proposed gun reforms and weakening those already on the books. Sean Caranna, of FloridaCarry.org, waxed confident about the chances for relaxing his state's carry laws so that revealing a gun during an argument is less likely to be prosecuted as aggravated assault or improper escalation of force. Jim Irvine, of Ohio's Buckeye Firearms Association, explained how Republican legislators are playing defense, allowing them to play offense on issues like open carry, Stand Your Ground, and gun training for teachers. Irvine told the crowd to act locally but think and link nationally, that a victory or defeat for one is a victory or defeat for all. "Like Hitler and the Nazis," said Irvine, "Bloomberg looks for targets he can pick off. The idea is to take those one at a time, until there's nobody left except you." 
Note to this group who met last October- Terry McAuliffe is now the Governor of Virginia. I guess their strategy didn't work out very well in that state's election. In fact, McAuliffe openly supported common sense gun laws and won in spite of efforts by the gun lobby. There's much more in this article that informs us about how the gun lobby is reacting to the changes happening in the gun violence prevention movement. One thing is clear. This group hates former Mayor Michael Bloomberg who founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Why? Because finally there is someone on the side of gun violence prevention with money and influence to make change. Thanks to Bloomberg and the many other groups involved in the movement to change the conversation about guns and gun violence, change is beginning to happen. The Brady Campaign, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, Violence Policy Center, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Newtown Action, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and many other groups, including those working in states all over the country are contributing to the new landscape that makes the gun lobby so nervous.

Change will only happen when the truth is exposed. The truth is that only some gun sales require background checks and others not. They are all selling the same products. Guns are all potentially dangerous. They should all be treated the same as say cigarettes where store clerks ask for IDs for anyone who looks too young to legally buy them. In addition, cigarettes are now behind counters where someone has to ask for them. Why? Because we have decided that they are bad for your health and not good especially for kids and teens. Alcohol sales are regulated as well. IDs are required for purchases if the buyer looks too young to be legal. Why? Alcohol can be bad for people as well. But all alcohol sales are treated the same. All cigarette sales are treated the same. Sales of some decongestants have been moved behind the counter where buyers must ask for them. Why? They can lead to illegal drug production and use. These restrictions just make common sense and we don't seem to object to these changes because we have learned the truth about the risks and dangers involved. It is for the common good in the interest of public health and safety. Guns and their owners should be treated the same. But they aren't. And that is a problem.

Guns are dangerous and pose a risk to those who own them and carry them in public places. We should think about that when we allow people to buy them without background checks. But more than that, there should be more attention paid to these risks. So why are we not doing more about those risks and studying the risks like we do for other products and services? Because the corporate gun lobby doesn't want us to. Just read this article- yet another of many I have read recently about the gun lobby's self interest and how it reframes the discussion about guns and gun violence. From the article:
It is worth putting the United States’ exceptional gun violence problem into perspective. The country´s firearm homicide rate is over six times higher than neighboring Canada’s, and 45 times as high as England’s. With the highest rates of gun homicide, suicide and accidental death in the industrialized world, it is not surprising that Americans also feel afraid.
The percentage of Americans who fear walking alone at night has increased since 2001 to nearly 4 in 10 in 2011. And yet national authorities have consistently refused introducing measures to curb gun violence. Strangely, Congress has opted instead to undermine gun control legislation, curb gun safety awareness, and abandon violence prevention programs, including some that registered positive results.
Meanwhile, in many states, laws intended to promote the responsible use of guns are being repealed. Instead, legislation that reproduces irresponsible firearms use – including so-called “stand your ground” laws – are being pursued. So what explains America’s reversal on gun control? (...) 
Concerted efforts to roll back progressive gun regulation began by stealth. They started with quiet lobbying campaigns to reduce American citizens` capacity to diagnose firearm-related violence and thus fully apprehend the magnitude of the problem. In 1996 under considerable pressure from the pro-gun lobby, Congress de-funded firearms-related public health research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by 96 percent. To put this in perspective, resources devoted to firearms research constituted just 0.0018 percent of the CDC´s 2013 budget. Given that firearm deaths constitute around 1.3 percent of total national mortality, it could be reasonably argued that the CDC’s gun-related research program should have been roughly 722 times larger.
Meanwhile, the Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been prohibited since 1978 from compiling meaningful data on firearms sales. Moreover, its field offices in states bordering Mexico where illegal arms trafficking is rife are underfunded and understaffed.
We all know that talking about guns and gun violence comes with a lot of controversy. It shouldn't. There is pretty much wide spread agreement that we should be requiring background checks on all gun sales. There is also agreement on some of the other controversial gun measures that have been proposed and have failed over the years. Why? The corporate gun lobby doesn't want us to agree on solutions. Instead of joining us in efforts to stem the tide of gun violence, many in the gun rights community go in the opposite direction and actually flaunt their guns in public to make some kind of point.

In Austin, Texas, a bunch ( not very many actually) decided to march around at a festive event with their long guns openly carried. One must be pretty dedicated to a cause if one is willing to walk around with a long gun hanging on one's body. How inconvenient could that be? They get in the way while walking or perhaps running, while carrying a baby for goodness' sake or while trying to sit down. But if one sits down, the gun comes off and then where does one put it? And why do this anyway? We are not at war. There is no need for these guns in public places.

Speaking of Texas and searching for the truth, here is the truth about armed folks who shoot first and ask questions later. A man, armed with a handgun, found a teen-aged boy in his daughter's bedroom in the middle of the night. From the article:
Herman said the man told investigators he heard noises in his home and went to investigate. He encountered the 17-year-old boy in his daughter's bedroom. There was a confrontation and the teen was shot. He died at the scene.
No other injuries were reported. However, Herman said, the father complained of possible panic attacks after the shooting and was taken to a nearby hospital.
OK. Let's talk about this one. No father wants to find a boy in his teen-aged daughter's bedroom during the night. That would be cause for anger and concern. But the boy was not armed, right? Was this self defense? Of course not. Did this boy deserve to die over this indiscretion? Absolutely not. Gun toting hot heads pulling out their guns in any and all situations are dangerous. And now this man had panic attacks? That's the least of his problems I would say. The truth is that he should have thought this through before he brought his loaded gun with him down the hall. If I heard noises in my daughter's bedroom when I knew she was home and in her bed, I would not be expecting an intruder. I would think about some other reason why noises were happening. As it turns out, of course, there were other reasons. Without the gun, a confrontation, an argument. He kicks the boy out of the house- maybe calls his parents. He reprimands his daughter. Everyone lives. Now, the lives of many people have been affected and a young life has been taken needlessly by a law abiding gun owner with a quick trigger finger. Do the gun rights extremists expect us to believe that this is the reason people need their loaded guns around them at all times? The truth is that guns in the home are more likely to kill you or someone you know or love than to be used in self defense. Something has to change.

Senseless.

And speaking of what the gun rights extremists are trying to get others to believe, check out what this right wing talk radio commenter said about left wing academics. Quoted from the linked article:
"That is the nonsense that they teach in women’s studies at Duke University, this is where she learned this. The toxic stew of the modern university is gender studies, it’s “Sex Week,” they all have “Sex Week” and teaching people how to be sex-positive and overcome the patriarchy. My daughters go to a little private religious school and we pay an arm and a leg for it precisely to keep them away from all of this kind of nonsense. I do hope that they go to a Christian college or university and to keep them so far away from the hard left, human-hating people that run modern universities, who should all be taken out and shot."
Bad idea and certainly not the truth nor the way to practice Christianity. At least not in my faith tradition. In fact, this will make a change in the opposite direction if listeners believe what Ruse said and act on what he said. This kind of talk adds to the polarization of the gun issue. If we are truly to make changes that will save lives, we have to call out this kind of extremism. If the corporate gun lobby would step up and denounce this kind of hate and dangerous rhetoric, we might get somewhere. Will they?

For if the gun lobby would join those of us who want to prevent senseless and tragic shootings, they would tell people not to leave loaded guns lying around in homes. A recent Arizona teen murder/suicide could have been prevented if that was a national public health and safety platform that we all supported. From the article:
Authorities say the gun used by a Phoenix teenager to fatally shoot his ex-girlfriend and then himself belonged to his older brother.
Phoenix police announced Tuesday that the gun was legally possessed and was kept in a locked bedroom.
They say it appears that the 15-year-old boy broke an outside window, stole the gun and got a ride from a friend to a north Phoenix home last Friday.
Police investigators say 16-year-old Anastasia "Ana" Greer was at the home of a friend and was running when she was shot.
Anyone over 18 can purchase a long gun in Arizona and over 21 to purchase a handgun. Another legally purchased gun used in a tragic shooting.

Speaking of a legally purchased gun, I want to add an article about the total hypocrisy of some gun rights advocates. It turns out that the man who shot a man at a Florida theater for texting during the movie was himself texting before he shot the man. You can't make this stuff up. And he wants us to believe it was a self defense shooting? For texting? Really? This has to change.

Joe Nocera in his latest post of The Gun Report quotes the NRA's own Wayne LaPierre from his recent CPAC speech. Here is some of the quote from the linked article:
Nevertheless, “Freedom has never needed our defense more than now,” LaPierre thundered from the stage. “Almost everywhere you look, something has gone wrong. The core values we believe in, the things we care about most, are changing. Eroding. It’s why more and more Americans are buying firearms and ammunition — not to cause trouble, but because we sense that America is already in trouble.”
Yes. something has gone wrong all right. The things we care about are changing. The people we care about are getting shot. If you don't believe me, read the rest of Nocera's column. Does Mr. Wayne LaPierre get that this many Americans are being shot every day in America? And many of them are shot by loved ones or friends with legally purchased guns. The first 4 entries in this edition are about children shot accidentally with guns found in their homes. God help us.

This week-end is gun violence prevention Sabbath. Congregations all over the U.S. are coming together to support reasonable gun laws and change the conversation about guns and gun violence.  This link is from the website of the United Church of Christ, my denomination. From the link:
Congregations across the nation are joining the Washington National Cathedral and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence to remember those who have lost their lives to gunfire, pray for those whose lives have been forever changed because of the loss of a loved one, and to continue the discussion on how communities of faith can work together to help reduce gun violence
Lives are forever changed by gun violence. Faith communities can speak out and make a difference for change in our communities. I will be participating in one of these sabbath events on Sunday. I hope you will all find a faith community near you and find out what you can do to effect change. Check out the Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence for more information. Participants will be singing, reflecting and hoping for non violence to become more prevalent than the violence that is so pervasive in America. They may even pray for truth and justice. Based on the few incidents I wrote about in this post, I would say that prayer will not be enough. Action is what is needed to enact the changes we deserve. We know we can do better so let's get to work.



26 comments:

  1. "17-year-old boy in his daughter's bedroom" - well there is a lot more to that story, namely that the brother had already reported to the farther that there was individual hiding under the bed, 911 was called prior to approaching the intruder, the daughter claimed that the she did not know the "intruder" and was scared of the individual, the "intruder" made threatening moves after being ordered to stay still by the armed home owner. The case will be reviewed by the Grand Jury however, there is not expected to be any charges filed. So, if you want to establish blame, you might start with the intruder not following instructions when caught in a place that he had no business being, second might be the daughter that allowed the individual to be in her room and actively hiding his presence. Next you might blame all involved for not expecting any responsible home owner to be armed and to respond with the assumption that unexpected people present should expect to be challenged. The bottom line is that the intruder or the daughter could have prevented this needless death.

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    1. Do you have a link to all of that information? I don't agree. There is no evidence the boy was armed. It was what the father said he believed. No need to shoot this teen-ager for this offense. The daughter, if I read the reports right, actually did know him. My first response would not have been to shoot him. I don't beleive many people would have. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/13/father-shoots-teen_n_4959409.html?ir=Crime

      Would you assume that if your daughter was in her bed and there were feet sticking out from under the bed that it was an intruder? How could that have happened when she was in the room? Unlikely. This father was trigger happy, No gun or shooting was necessary to take care of the problem here. But that is the dark and paranoid world in which you gun guys live, apparently. I only blame the victim for coming into the home when he most likely knew he could be discovered. Would he have imagined that he could be shot for sneaking into a girl's bedroom? Unlikely. The girl and the victim could unlikely have prevented a "good guy" with a gun from shooting first and then having panic attacks over what he just did. There are no excuses for this. The fact that you gave me excuses says all I need to know about you TopCat.

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  2. Japete, I certainly understand where you're coming from, and given the irresponsible 'coverage' offered by the mainstream press and the organizations of the political left, I can't blame you for feeling the way you do. I once shared a very similar perspective. No doubt certain needs of citizens in general change as one moves closer to the high population density centers such as California, New York, and the Northeast in general. So what may be right for a Southerner such as myself may not be as appealing to you. We don't have to agree on everything, but it is indeed beneficial to talk, and to listen.

    I understand your concern regarding background checks, and the apparent free legal access to firearms. You present the analogies of cigarettes, alcohol, and decongestants being secured behind the counter because of the dangers to society and one's self when those items are misused. While it is true that *some* firearms purchases can legally be conducted without a background check, that percentage is very low. You may hear that sales at gunshows account for 40% of all gun purchases, and none of those require background checks. Simply put, it's not true. It is a federal crime for any firearms dealer to sell a firearm to any member of the public that has not passed a basic background check. It doesn't matter if they're at a gunshow or not. The purchaser must still complete Federal form 4437, present valid ID, and the seller must make an inquiry into the NICS system to ensure that individual is not on any criminal, terrorist, or mentally deficient list. The only time a private citizen may purchase a firearm without a background check is when purchasing it from another private citizen. Even then, it is a felony to knowingly sell a firearm to anyone who shouldn't have one. If a firearm owner does not know the person to which he is selling the firearm, that sale is normally conducted through a Federal Fireams Licensee (FFL) who conducts the background check.

    So your point about needing to secure firearm sales similar to cigarettes, alcohol, and many drugs is absolutely valid in my opinion. I'm happy to tell you that's already the case. There are several other items I'd like to clarify as well in another reply. You've made so many excellent points, and they deserve an informed response.

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  3. DJ. I look forward to your "informed response." There are many gun sales made with no background checks as I have pointed out. There are new Internet markets that didn't exist when current law was written.

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  4. I'll have to break this up a little, as there's a 4096 character limit...

    When you say "There are many gun sales made with no background checks as I have pointed out", can you give us a few examples? Which Internet markets are you referring to? I'm not saying you're wrong. I just want to follow up on the specific examples.

    "Anyone over 18 can purchase a long gun in Arizona and over 21 to purchase a handgun."
    Thanks for providing the link to the Arizona statues regarding firearm purchases. If one will click that link and read the article, it points out that not anyone can purchase a firearm. There are a lot more stringent criteria involved, including a federal background check.

    "Another legally purchased gun used in a tragic shooting." Yes, it is indeed a tragedy, and it was legally purchased by the owner (older brother). It was not legally obtained by the criminal (younger brother) who broke over a dozen different existing laws:

    1. Willful destruction of property (older brother's window)
    2. Breaking and entering (older brother's room)
    3. Criminal tresspass (older brother's room)
    4. Theft of property (older brother's gun)
    5. Possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime
    6. Possession of a firearm by a minor
    7. Willful destruction of property (ex-girlfriend's home)
    8. Breaking and entering (ex-girlfriend's home)
    9. Criminal tresspass (ex-girlfriend's home)
    10. Menacing
    11. Illegal pointing of a firearm
    12. Illegal dischange of a firearm within city limits
    13. Murder
    14. Possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime (five more counts)

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  5. I will gladly concede that firearm owners have a responsibility to better secure their firearms when not under their immediate control, especially with minors living in the same home. The VAST majority of gun related crime is committed with stolen firearms. I personally believe it's not only irresponsible, but hypocritical for us gun owners to cite protection and crime prevention as our justification for gun ownership, only to so easily allow our firearms to fall into criminal hands. We're not helping ourselves, here, and I'll own up to that one.

    You mentioned the festival in Austin (I'm assuming you're referring to the South by Southwest (SxSW) festival. Yes, a number of individuals did show up with their firearms as a demonstration. While I recognize their right to do so, I don't think they're helping our cause. Many of us in the gun owning community find it childish. But I'd like to point out that the demonstration went off without any events, and nobody was harmed. Two days later, a career criminal with a history of underage drinking, and drunk driving plowed through the very same festival killing two (now three) individuals, and injuring dozens more. Law abiding gun owners weren't the bad guys here. A guy with hooch and a Honda was.

    Regarding the case in Texas where the father shot and killed the 'intruder', yes, that's a tragic outcome, and also a rarity. As someone else already pointed out, there are other factors to this case that may point to the shooting being justified. Contrary to popular belief, we can't just shoot somebody without very clear ability to demonstrate the assailant had the ability, opportunity, and intent to inflict death or great bodily harm upon an individual. If the father can't prove all three, he may very well go to jail for it. Senseless? Maybe. The jury isn't out on that case yet, so let's wait and see. What happens far more when a homeowner hears something go bump in the night, is that criminals have indeed broken into their house with the intent to commit armed robbery or worse. Sadly, this often results in the injury or death of an entire family, because nobody had the ability to effectively counter the attack. That's also a tragedy, and far more common.

    In a growing number of cases, however, the homeowners were armed, and able to protect their family from harm. Some of those cases do result in the homeowner shooting and occasionally killing the criminals, which is still a tragedy, but more often than not, the attacker either flees, or surrenders, knowing he no longer holds the advantage. Either way, the good guys get to go on living relatively unharmed.

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    1. Are you saying that the teen who hid under the bed was an inherent "bad guy" and deserved to die for what he did?

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  6. Regarding per-capita gun violence in the US versus other countries, overall, it's absolutely true. But if you dig a little deeper, some interesting revelations come to the surface. First, the vast majority of that (non-suicide) gun violence is drug related gang on gang activity in the slums in four major US cities: Chicago, Detriot, Washington DC, and New Orleans. Did you know that during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it was statistically safer to work the front lines in a war zone, than it was to walk the streets of our own nation's capital? I'd say that's pretty damning evidence in clear support of your argument. But then one has to consider these four cities already have some of the toughest gun control laws in the country. An interesting coincidence, don't you think?

    If we remove those four cities from consideration, our gun-violence statistics versus other countries improve dramatically. Now, instead of cherry picking gun-violence, let's look at violent crime as a whole. Yes, where guns are more readily available, a gun is more likely to be used in the commission of a crime, thus contributing to our higher gun-violence statistics. This is especially true of suicides, which account for roughly 60% of all gun related deaths. They are very handy tools, far more convenient and effective than poisons, bludgeoning weapons or knives. But let's compare our overall violent crime rates to those of other countries with more stringent gun control measures.

    Between the US and the UK overall, you are indeed almost twice as likely to get shot in the US as in the UK. However, you are 50% more likely to get robbed in the UK, and nearly 300% more likely to get raped. Compared to Australia, which also recently banned gun ownership, you are three times more likely to be burglarized in Australia than in the US.

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    1. Actually no, that is not true. Gang shootings are only a small percentage of overall shootings. Most gun deaths are actually suicides. I am talking about gun deaths and injuries, not overall crime. Gang shooting numbers have dropped in Chicago, by the way- http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/26293413-418/number-of-gang-shootings-in-chicago-taking-steep-dive-mccarthy.html

      http://thesouthern.com/news/local/state-and-regional/chicago-police-gang-related-shootings-down-in/article_858f3a85-2b3c-596e-b3d1-12f221bbb4b0.html

      It is difficult to get accurate information as to gang shootings compared to other shootings. Most homicides are among people who know each other- either in an intimate relationship or possibly gang activity. But we can't blame gangs for most of the shootings in our country or even in our cities. Of a certain age group, gang activity contributes to gun homicides.

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  7. One of the other statistics that the popular press hasn't shared with the general public is the fact that gun-violence, as well as violent crime as a whole, has already decreased dramatically over the last two decades, even as overall firearm ownership (including those dreaded 'assault' rifles) has exploded. Yes, we've had a couple of high-profile shootings, which are horribly tragic, but overall, it's down significantly.

    The left says 'we have to do something about it'. Well, the problem is fixing itself. If we want to help, and *do* something positive, let's listen to our sheriffs and actually enforce the laws already on the books. I spoke to one of our sheriffs about this a couple years ago. He mentioned a case where he repeatedly arrested an individual for illegal possession of a machine gun (these are the REAL assault weapons, the fully automatic ones like you see in the movies, not the single-shot-per-trigger-pull semi-automatics we mere civilians are allowed to have).

    But since owning a machine gun is a federal crime, it has to be prosecuted by the feds, namely through the attorney general's office. State and local governments are not allowed to enforce federal law. They can only arrest and turn them over for prosecution. Time and again, the attorney general's office declined to prosecute, and the sheriff had to let this guy go. It wasn't until this career criminal was involve in a high-profile shootout with Missouri State troopers that the feds finally decided to do their jobs.

    What can we as private citizens do? The number one thing we can do is stay involved and engaged with what goes on in our own communities. We have an outstanding police force in the town I live in, and they're able to maintain a crime rate that is literally 11% of the state average. How do they do it? They enforce the little stuff, which has sent a clear message to the criminals not to even come here and try the big stuff. Additionally, the community does a very good job of calling in suspicious activity, which any police officer will tell you is the cornerstone of how they catch the few bad guys stupid enough to try pulling off serious crimes.

    As far as guns and legal owners are concerned, the number one thing we can do is better secure our firearms when not under our immediate control. If you really want to make a difference, this is where you should absolutely HAMMER us, because that is a real contributor to the problem. I'll own it.

    Bottom line is that if you stay out of the inner city of Chicago, Detriot, Washington DC, and New Orleans, don't commit suicide, and keep a watchful eye, there's not that much to worry about regarding per-capita gun violence.

    Again, this is my opinion, and I have no need to try to change yours. All I can do is present evidence that perhaps hasn't yet been offered to you, and let you make up your own mind. If I do have any intention with this response, it's simply to say I hear you, I'm willing to listen, and do something to help the problem, but it's not as scary or hopeless as some would have you believe. I hope none of this comes across as disrespectful. It's not meant to be. You would deserve better.

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    1. Crime rates have gone down. Gun deaths have remained at about the same level over the past 5 years ago. It sits at around 30,000 plus or minus and has been at that number for quite some time. That is why I do what I do. You are right about securing firearms. Accidental gun deaths among children are being reported often enough in the media for us all to be concerned, As far as worrying, there are plenty of shootings outside of large cities. There are too many domestic shootings having nothing to do with inner cities. I know that for sure. I am all about prevention. You seem to be saying that we should do what you have suggested but not bother passing any laws that would further reduce gun deaths. That is where we differ apparently. And I just can't agree with you that there is not much to worry about. There is a lot to worry about. Just because you aren't worried doesn't mean we don't have a problem.

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  8. DJ- you are new to my blog apparently. I have provided these examples many times on this blog. I am not going to do so here. YOu can look up Armslistll.com yourself and google shooters who have bought guns through that site. The shooter in the Milwaukee spa mass shooting as just one. As to the next one- the gun was legally purchased. That was the point. Legally purchased guns get used in crimes. They get stolen, as this one was. People who own guns need to make sure their guns are securely stored. You missed the point. Before this young man got his hands on a gun, he was not a criminal. He took his gun from a family member as is often the case for someone who can't buy a gun on their own. He became an instant criminal.

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  9. According to the CDC, the gun related homicide rate was about 4.4 per 100,000 in 2006, and 3.6 per 100,000 in 2010, the latest year for which they have statistics. That's about a 20% drop.

    Yes, the media has been sharing a lot of accidental gun deaths lately, and you are quite correct; we should all be concerned about them. That's one of the reasons why I advocate gun owners being much more responsible with securing their weapons. You and I are in agreement, there. What the media won't tell you is that the pool in my back yard and the car in my garage are far more likely to cause a child's death than a firearm. That's readily apparent in the CDC's latest study, available here:

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_04.pdf

    I absolutely would support passing laws to make our kids more safe, if I felt those laws would actually achieve that goal. But they won't. The only laws anyone seems interested in enforcing are the ones that take firearms out of the hands of law abiding citizens. Why? Because by definition, law-abiding citizens will obey the law, thus making enforcement free and easy. But enforcing the laws that put the dangerous people behind bars and keeps them there? That takes effort. Enforcing THOSE laws just doesn't seem to be important to anyone. What that leaves is a society where even less people are able to effectively defend themselves from criminals who not only have no fear or respect for the law, but then have no fear of victims' potential to defend themselves either.

    Yes, I do worry about the violent crime problem we have in our country. I worry more about people legislating away my ability to defend myself against that crime. I respect that you believe more laws would make our children safer. Can you tell me what laws you would like to see passed, and how you feel it would help protect them?

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    1. Overall gun deaths have remained about the same for the past 6 or so years, down from the mid 1990s or so. I am concerned about all gun deaths. How do you know laws won't make our kids safer? We haven't tried. They have worked in almost every other country in the world. No one is suggesting taking firearms out of the hands of law abiding citizens. How does a background check do that? If you are law abiding you won't have a think to worry about.What laws are we not enforcing? What laws do you think are not important to anyone? Be specific. What the heck- even less people to effectively defend themselves? What does that mean? I have no idea what you are talking about. I don't own a gun for self defense. I can't imagine that a background check law will make it harder for me to defend myself if I so choose. You can have a gun for self defense if you so choose. No one is saying you can't. You are speaking the gun lobby talking points without thinking through what you are saying. If you thought about it, you would realize that people like me have no interest in taking away your rights or your guns.

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  10. Yes, I am new to your blog, and thank you for engaging me in a respectful debate on the subject. I apologize for not being versed in your previous posts regarding Armlist. We already have numerous laws regulating the sale of arms through that and similar sites. Any firearm sold through that site is still subject to all the rules and regulations to which any firearm sale is subjected. There is some leeway regarding sales between indivduals within the same state, but the seller is still on the hook for selling a firearm to someone he hasn't verified can legally own a gun. Any sale across state lines also is required by law to go through an FFL to perform the background check. Otherwise, both buyer and seller have already broken the law. How is one more law going to help? They won't obey that one either. Now we're back to enforcement. If nobody is enforcing the laws already on the books, why would we expect them to enforce a new one?

    The Milwaukee spa (Azana) mass shooting is only one more example of where gun-control doesn't work. That location had a no-firearms policy. Any law-abiding citizen who MIGHT have had the ability to defend themselves had to leave their firearms locked in the car, because of course, they willingly obey the law. Haughton, on the other hand, didn't give a care about that, or any law. A restraining order had been filed against him, and at the time, it was illegal for him to possess a firearm. Did any of those laws stop him? Apparently not. Where was the enforcement? Nowhere to be seen. When all was said and done, three women were dead, four more severly injured, and nobody stood a chance defending themselves against him, because they were all disarmed. The police did not arrive in time to save anybody.

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    1. Armslist.com allows private sellers to advertise guns for sale specifically with no background checks advertised. Buyers and sellers meet up somewhere for the exchange with no background check required. What the heck do you mean by a location having a no firearms policy? What does that have to do with anything? The shooter got his gun on the Internet with no background check. He was a prohibited purchaser. They don't check to see if there is a firearms policy at a location where they are determined to shoot. Four police officers were shot to death in a coffee shop in Tacoma, Washington while armed. A background check law requiring that a seller do one on everyone whether selling at an FFL, on the Internet or at a gun show would stop people like this shooter from getting a gun easily at one of these venues. The shooter would have to work harder to get that gun and maybe won't feel as angry given a few days time. The police usually don't arrive in tome to save people. What will save people is stopping folks from getting the guns in the first place. It's about prevention. That is what I'm about. States that have stronger gun laws have fewer gun homicides. Countries that have stronger gun laws have fewer gun deaths. That is not a coincidence.

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  11. What armslist.com advertises, and what the law requires, may be two different things. I agree that laws requiring background checks for the three examples you cite should keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them. For the most part, those laws already exist. The seller sold his gun to an individual he did not know, and could not have any reasonable assurance was legally allowed to buy one. In fact, based on the reports I've read, the seller had reasonable suspicion that the buyer was not legally allowed to possess a firearm, but sold it to him anyway. So that seller committed a crime just by doing so. Did that particular law get enforced?

    If the buyer and private seller both live in the same state, then yes, there is no federal law requiring that transaction be conducted via an FFL, and no federal law mandating a background check. Armslist, gunshow, whatever, if it doesn't cross state lines, no federal law applies. In that case, state laws would have to regulate that transaction, and I'll concede there are opportunities to improve some state laws there. It's a sticky situation, because it can run up against certain constitutional protections, but it's certainly something to investigate. By all means, fight the good fight in your state, and encourage others to fight it in their own if they feel compelled to do so. I have no right to tell you you're wrong to do so.

    According to the US Constitution, the federal government can only regulate commerce that occurs across state lines. And it does. If the buyer and private seller live in different states, federal law already requires that transaction be conducted via an FFL, specifically to facilitate the background check. It doesn't matter what armslist advertizes. Sell a firearm across state lines without going through an FFL? That breaks an existing federal law, and we're back to the question of why the existing law isn't being enforced, and then how passing another law would make any difference.

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    1. That's why we need a federal background check law so we won't have to deal with this. If a gun is sold with no background check, it is illegal. As to the seller? You guys don't want the sellers to be penalized so usually work to weaken language to penalize sellers. The ATF needs more funding and more people to monitor this stuff. But the gun rights community hates the ATF and so has made sure there is not enough funding and until recently, not even a Director of the organization. Recently a 15 year old Kentucky boy bought a gun through an exchange on a Facebook site from a seller in another state. He brought that gun to school. The seller lives in Ohio. Federal charges are pending. http://www.wsaz.com/news/kentuckynews/headlines/15-Year-Old-Student-Arrested-Accused-of-Bringing-Gun-on-School-Grounds-227472151.html
      Let's hope they stick.

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  12. Well, lets not confuse lawful gun owners with the gun manufacturing industry, which the NRA has begun to court more than private citizens. It's the manufacturing crowd that is so determined to hold the seller blameless, and in cases where the transaction was legal, I can agree with them. But when a seller breaks the law, that's where owners and manufacturers tend to differ. There's a reason why the National Association for Gun Rights has been gaining ground, because the NRA doesn't necessarily represent our views as much as it once did. As for the case you cite, I agree. The law was broken, and the seller should be prosecuted. It's another case where one more law still wouldn't make any difference. We already have a background check law to address that situation, and the seller broke it. The owner knowingly sold a gun across state lines without going through an FFL, thus deliberately circumventing the mandatory background check, and he sold it to a minor. Both actions are already felonies. I hope the feds actually enforce that law, and as you said, Let's hope the charges stick.

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    1. Nope the NRA is in bed with the manufacturers. They are one and the same. http://www.thenation.com/blog/171776/does-nra-represent-gun-manufacturers-or-gun-owners.

      We don't have a background check law in the example I gave. That is the problem. Did you miss that? The seller did not do a background check on this young man. If he had he would have known he was underage. In fact, if he had looked at his ID he would have known he was underage because he wasn't even old enough to have a driver's license.

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  13. I agree with you regarding the NRA being in bed with the manufacturers. Many in our community aren't fans of that fact. That's why I'm a member of the NAGR, and not of the NRA.

    Actually yes, we do have a background check law in the example you gave. From the ATF:

    http://www.atf.gov/files/firearms/industry/0501-firearms-top-10-qas.pdf

    2. May I lawfully transfer a firearm to a friend who resides in a different State?

    Under Federal law, an unlicensed individual is prohibited from transferring a firearm to an individual
    who does not reside in the State where the transferee resides. Generally, for a person to lawfully
    transfer a firearm to an unlicensed person who resides out of State, the firearm must be shipped to a
    Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) within the recipient’s State of residence. He or she may then
    receive the firearm from the FFL upon completion of an ATF Form 4473 and a NICS background
    check. See 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(5).

    So again, we're back to the question of enforcing existing laws. You're not wrong to want a law that requires a background check in that case. I completely agree with you on that subject. Here's the point that's causing both you and I so much frustration: We already have the very law you so passionately advocate. And it does prevent some people who shouldn't have guns from getting them. But it's only effective so long as people obey and enforce the law. When they don't, no law in the world is going to matter. I admire your focus on prevention, and more often than not, it works. Not always. At that point, prevention fails, and the only option left is to either fight back or die. All I ask is that the law abiding be given that choice, and not have their right and ability to effectively defend themselves legislated away.

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    1. You continue to either misunderstand or purposely ignore what I am saying. We do not have a federal system of background checks that requires private sellers to phone NICS to get a check on their buyers. That is what would have prevented the 15 year old from Kentucky from getting his gun in the first place. It was perfectly legal for this seller to not require a background check because we have not passed a law that says private sellers must do so. Yes, this guy will be charged for selling a gun across state lines. That's good. How about if we prevent this stuff in the first place? What if that 15 year old had shot up his school? The Columbine shooters got their guns from a friend who bought from a private seller because she did not want to go through a background check. That is the problem. It would have been a lot harder for those 2 teens to get their hands on guns. I'm all for enforcing existing laws. But there are some laws we don't have that we should have that would prevent some people who shouldn't have guns from getting them in the first place. At the least, we should be making it hard to get a gun. Guns are weapons designed to kill people. There should be no excuses for not requiring background checks on all gun sales.

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  14. I'm not trying to ignore what you're saying. I share your frustration with not feeling like you're being understood, but let's keep trying. We're close. I get it. You want a system than mandates a phone call gets made to the NICS system before the transaction can be completed. If I understand you correctly, that's your primary concern.

    I'm not sure you understand the purpose of the FFL, and why the system requires the seller to conduct the transaction through the FFL, instead of on his own. You are correct in that we don't have a federal system that requires a private seller to *personally* phone NICS to check on the buyers. That's not an oversight. The federal system is deliberately designed that way, and for good reason.

    Instead, the federal system specifically *forbids* a private seller from selling firearms *directly* to a buyer, and instead requires that seller to ship the firearm to an FFL in the state in which the buyer resides. It's not optional. That's mandatory. From there, the FFL, who has been fully investigated, vetted, trained, and bound by contract to conduct the transaction in accordance with all federal, state, and local laws (which are numerous), collects the serial number from the firearm, runs it through a database to ensure it hasn't been flagged by law enforcement, and assists the buyer in filling out the federal form 4437. The FFL then collects copies of the the buyer's government issued photo ID, to have some reasonable assurance that the buyer is who he claims to be, and not a criminal simply providing a false name. With all that information in hand, the FFL then makes the very phone call to NICS you speak of, to verify the buyer isn't on any lists. If the buyer checks out, then the FFL completes the transaction on the seller's behalf, and collects a small fee for providing that service. If something comes up in that NICS check, the FFL can quietly call the police while this guy is still in the store, and have the police detain, or if need-be, arrest the guy. Even if the guy walks away from the store before the police get there, the authorities now have a LOT more information to investigate him with than what a private seller would have, and they have a lot more resources with which to do so.

    Even if everything checks out, now we have a safe and secure place in which to keep that form 4437 so that if a crime is later committed with that firearm, the authorities have some hope of being able to locate that form, cross reference the serial numbers, and identify not only the buyer, but the seller as well. There's no way they can do all of that if the system merely required a buyer to make a personal phone call to NICS. That simply isn't enough.

    Okay, so after reading all that, can you see now how the background check IS required by law? It's just that the FFL, not the private seller himself, is who makes that call. Can you see the added benefit of having the FFL perform this function instead of the seller himself? That's the whole reason why the federal system requires the seller to go through the FFL, to ensure that phone call to NICS gets made, plus a whole lot more.

    The issue here isn't the lack of laws to govern background checks. They do in fact exist. The issue is that the seller deliberately broke that law. You believe the transaction between the kid in Kentucky from the buyer in Ohio was perfectly legal. I don't mean any offense by this, but your belief is incorrect. As per the ATF article I cited earlier, that transaction was very, very illegal. Had the seller obeyed the law and gone through a Kentucky FFL as required, that call would have been made, and not only would the transaction have been stopped, but the gun ceased, and the kid would have been apprehended.

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    1. Good grief. My eyes are glazing over. In states that require these background checks, the private seller goes through a FFL to get the check. It's that simple and it works. There are fewer gun deaths in these states as it turns out. No the issue is the lack of a law that requires a background check on every gun sale. It's pretty simple really.

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  15. YES! In states that require these background checks, private sellers go through the FFL, and providing that background check is the core function of the FFL; that's the entire reason why FFLs exist. Whenever a transaction goes across state lines, federal law mandates that purchase go through an FFL in the buyer's state to ensure the background check takes place, regardless of the states involved. Yes, it is indeed that simple. And as long as those laws are obeyed and enforced, it does indeed work. You are absolutely correct. I 100% agree.

    So what do you do when those laws aren't obeyed or enforced?

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