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.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Every day guns?

This post has been updated since first posted.

Some things are done most every day by most people. Take brushing your teeth for example. Eating meals. Getting dressed. Maybe going to work. Going to school on school days. Exercising perhaps? Strapping on your gun? Shooting someone? For as regularly as people brush their teeth, others are being shot in homicides, suicides or accidental shootings. In fact, 88 Americans a day die from gunshot injuries. Yes, there are every day shootings. Is this like every day clothing or every day shoes? Shootings are as regular as the sunrise and sunset. We have come to expect them. Sometimes we pay little attention to them- most of the time in fact. That is because they don't usually affect us- until they suddenly do. I know that from personal experience. Now I am hyper aware of the every day devastation to families all over our country.

The mass shootings get our attention for a few days or a week or so. And then we move on. All except the families and friends of the victims. We have public memorial services and then forget about what just happened to attract our national attention for a few days. Some mass shootings ( many in fact because they are every day type shootings) happen under the radar- except to the families and friends of the victims. This one, for example, in an article written by the husband of a victim of a mass shooting in California that took the lives of 4 people:
On Thursday afternoon, February 20th, police say Cherie Rhoades walked into a Tribal Community Council meeting with two 9mm handguns and killed my wife, three Tribal members and critically injured two others. When she ran out of bullets, she grabbed a butcher's knife and attempted to kill everyone in the building before law enforcement arrived. There were nineteen people in the building that day and Rhoades is reported to have made statements that she intended to kill all of them. This was told to me by eye witnesses and from police reports. Also, the entire incident was captured on security video surveillance cameras that were installed in the Tribal offices not long ago. Since it was common practice to record the minutes of Tribal meetings, it was all captured on audio tape as well.
I watched the story of the shooting get international media coverage, and then fade away a few days later, seemingly accepted as a fact of life in our culture. It became painfully obvious to me that these shootings have become so commonplace in our lives that no one seems to bat an eye anymore. This senseless killing has to stop. What was once an unspeakable act has now become a viable solution for some people to solve their issues. It almost appears to me that Sandy Hook and the gunning down of innocent children marked a turning point in this country. When we as a people could not take action after such a horrible tragedy, I fear it opened the flood gates for these shootings to happen more and more.
"...these shootings have become so commonplace in our lives that no one seems to bat an eye anymore."

The corporate gun lobby doesn't like to talk about the every day shootings like the one I linked to above. Many of them involve law abiding gun owners. The narrative of recognizing that violence affects us all at some point doesn't fit with their idea that guns make us all safer. If we pass any regulations at all on who can own them, who can carry them or where they can be carried, suddenly it's all about them. It's all about their rights to do whatever they want with those guns and take them wherever they feel entitled under the guise of the second amendment.

In Connecticut, "law abiding gun owners" showed up in force, assault rifles hanging from their backs and handguns in holsters, to protest the recently passed common sense laws passed after the nation's most heinous shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school. You've got to love the photos of these folks strutting around with their guns as if sane people want to see this on their streets and in their restaurants and other public places. From the article:
The rally drew like-minded supporters from nearby New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and others as far away as Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi and even Montana. Capitol police indicated that the crowd exceeded 3,000 attendees while other observers put the total closer to 5,000 at the rally’s peak . . .
Connecticut Citizens’ Defense League (CCDL) sponsored the rally. Scott Wilson, president of the CCDL, told the crowd that Governor Malloy referred to “us all as the fringe of the fringe.” He said the governor told gun owners that they “lost” and should “just get over it”.
Watch it here and then listen to one man say it's the criminals who are the ones who have the guns while hundreds of others like himself were openly displaying the guns owned by "law abiding" gun owners whose guns will not be taken from them, by the way, under the new law if they but register their assault rifles as required.

These folks ARE the minority of us in America. They are the fringe. They are paranoid and have been scared by the corporate gun lobby into believing their rights are being infringed if any reasonable regulations to keep the rest of us from being shot in every day shootings are passed. And so, in Texas, folks are advocating for people to be able to open carry their handguns. This, just days after the Fort Hood mass shooting. From the article:
The meeting comes less than a week after a shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left four dead, including the gunman. The massacre renewed calls among gun activists to loosen laws stopping Texans from openly carrying handguns. Current law requires, in most cases, that handguns be concealed and those carrying them to be licensed.
Numerous advocates representing themselves, gun rights groups and others said reducing barriers in the way of openly carrying handguns would make the state safer and is a constitutional right, among other reasons.
Tara Reilly-Mica, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said all 50 states have some sort of concealed carry law and several states have no licensing requirement to openly carry a handgun.
“We aren’t plowing new ground here,” Reilly-Mica said. “We are talking about changing a method of carrying.”
Those opposed to loosening gun restrictions, such as Hilary Rand, with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said a lack of restrictions on rifles and shotguns, so-called long guns, already poses problems for law enforcement.
Committee member Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, was skeptical of the need to alter or loosen handgun laws.
“I don’t see the need to carry the gun out in the open so that anybody and everybody can see the gun,” Hinojosa said.
The committee is charged with discussing interim charges, including border security and possibly removing barriers to Second Amendment rights.
In 2013, the Legislature passed several laws incrementally loosening gun restrictions including shortening concealed handgun courses, allowing for online renewal of concealed handgun licenses and no longer requiring a social security number for the concealed handgun application, among other laws.
These folks want others to see them with their openly carried guns. It's an image thing for them. It's their identity. It is a display of force and it leaves a not so subtle message to those who see them. Watch out. Don't pull anything funny. I'm armed. It also is an unnecessary display of lunacy. The thing is, most people do not want to see openly carried guns in their every day lives. And the other thing is, everyone knows that people with guns kill people. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill another human being. They are not the same as someone carrying an umbrella, or a mixer or a hammer or a vase or another object around.

And further, they don't like any inconvenience when it comes to applying for, or renewing permits to carry guns in public. Loosening regulations to carry lethal weapons in public is just plain a bad idea. Can one renew a drivers' license on line? Not in my state. You have to actually show up, likely wait in line, fill out the forms, take a vision test and pay your money to a real person. Why? Driving a car is an awesome responsibility that should be taken seriously. But guns in Texas and other states? Not so much. Why are guns and their owners treated differently? That's a question that needs to be asked and answered.

We are not at war, the last time I checked, on American soil. The idea of every day citizens walking around every day with openly carried guns doesn't happen in any other democratized and civilized country not at war.

As an aside, I asked a man I knew to be a gun owner the other day whether he had a permit to carry a gun. He told me that his son had won a permit to carry class voucher for two at an auction several years ago so the two of them got their permits. I asked if he carried his gun around with him. He said he had never done so. He didn't see a need. I wonder how many folks who get their permits actually carry their guns? They are inconvenient to carry- bulky around your waist on your pant leg- maybe hot in hotter climates. They do actually fall out of holsters or pants and discharge. This is just one example. You can find many more on the Ohh Shoot blog. Or you can read about more here. One of the incidents in this blog post happened in my very own state of Minnesota. Read about it:
This week's derp title has to go to Fred Petersen of Stockton, Minnestoa. Mr. Petersen is an NRA-certified firearms instructor, who nonetheless managed to shoot himself in the hand. Now, it must be noted that he's not the first NRA-certified instructor to accidentally shoot himself. Not by a long shot. But he wins the crown this week for evidently deciding to answer his wife's query/challenge as to whether or not his .38 Special could be fired while it was still in the holster by actually sticking his hand in and pulling the trigger.
“The gun was pointed in a safe direction,” Petersen said, “but my finger was not in a good spot.”
So as you can see, it was the fault of the finger, acting on its own volition, and putting itself in a bad spot, quite independent of Mr. Petersen's wise counsel. Other than that, the gun was absolutely pointed in a "safe" direction. Clearly, it is only with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight that we can, from the safety of our own homes, point out that it all could have been done more safely had he used his NRA training to unload the gun before running the experiment.
Sigh. Lunacy.

Read more about how a gun tucked into a man's pants was mistaken for his wallet. He shot himself in the butt. Or this Indiana Police Chief who shot himself in the leg with his own gun? Right. Where is common sense? Or this one-a Cleveland man threatening to shoot his 9 year old daughter when she accidentally stepped on the dog's tail. Yup. You read that one right. Crazy, right?

I write about that often enough that we should be concerned. And sometimes someone steals a gun out of the holster and it gets used against its' owner. Yes. This happened in Michigan. Check it out from the linked article:
I’m inclined to say that this illustrates pretty clearly why it’s stupid for regular people, as they’re walking around town, to be carrying firearms, but maybe I’m missing something… At any rate, it’s just a good thing for us that an unarmed good samaritan was nearby, who was able to keep this handgun out of the hands of the would-be thief. It really would have really pissed me off, if this gun had been stolen, and then used to commit other crimes in our City.
Agree completely. These are the people we are going to trust to carry their guns openly in public? What could possibly go wrong?

What's more, in Florida, the corporate gun lobby is agitated about people not being able to have guns in national emergencies or riots, etc. From the article:
Under a bill backed by the National Rifle Association and other gun groups, riots could be the newest safe haven for those carrying firearms without a permit.
HB 209, which is expected to be voted on Friday by the Florida House, would allow people with clean criminal backgrounds to conceal firearms without a permit during emergencies — including riots and civil unrest like the 1996 racial disturbances that rocked St. Petersburg — declared by the governor or local officials.
"To allow people to go into a riot while concealing a gun without a permit is the definition of insanity," said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. "The bill is crazy. It's absurd."
Supporters of the bill say it's intended to give gun owners the opportunity to protect their property while they are evacuating from a disaster or crisis, such as hurricanes, floods or worse.
"We tell people to be prepared during hurricane season to take care of yourself for three days," Florida Carry general counsel Eric Friday said earlier this month. "That means food, water, and also the ability to protect yourself because emergency services aren't available."
Those concealing a firearm without a permit can be punished with up to five years in prison for the third-degree felony. Under the proposed legislation, that penalty could be waived during emergencies.
Gualtieri and the Florida Sheriffs Association have been lobbying for weeks to make changes, pitting them against the sponsor of the Senate bill, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. That's SB 296.
A key objection is that it's not clear in the legislation when it's okay not to have a permit for the concealed firearm. Both bills say no permit is needed for those "in the act of complying with a mandatory evacuation order during a declared state of emergency."
What could possibly go wrong with a bunch of paranoid folks with loaded guns in a national emergency or a riot? Lunacy is happening every day in America. The lunacy is that elected leaders can be swayed by this nonsense to do the bidding of the well funded corporate gun lobby while at the same time tolerating and ignoring the every day devastation right before their very eyes. They should all be reading The Gun Report. From the latest post: 
More than 300 people banned from owning guns—including felons, fugitives and people with histories of mental illness—were able to buy them in Maryland last year because state police were flooded with background check requests, The Baltimore Sun reported yesterday. And because of a loophole that allows gun dealers to release firearms after waiting a week, regardless of whether a check is done, 51,812 guns were handed out prematurely.
State police said the system was overwhelmed by a surge in gun sales sparked by the Newtown massacre, as well as a new handgun licensing requirement and a ban on the sale of assault weapons, which took effect on Oct. 1. Of the 128,640 applications received last year, 40 percent of firearms were released before a background check was completed, and state police did not see the applications until months later. Luckily, police are aware of only one instance in which a gun released to a prohibited buyer was used in a crime, a carjacking in January.
THIS is lunacy. And then the report goes on to list the actual dead and injured in states all over  the country. There were 39 shootings incidents listed from Monday to Wednesday. The report ends, as it always does, with this:
According to the Gun Violence Archive4,556 people have been injured by gun violence in America and 2,782 have been killed since Jan. 1, 2014.
Since there is a new Gun Report out, I want to share that there are 27 more shooting incidents since Wednesday of this week. I'm just reporting what's in the news.

The ones who died won't be brushing their teeth, going to work or school, eating meals with their families, celebrating holidays, kissing or hugging a loved one or all of the things living people get to do on a regular basis. Lunacy. It's time for a change. Are you with me? Let's get to work. Tell Congress to Finish The Job on gun background checks to make our communities safer.


The crazy Florida bill to which I referred, above, has caught the attention of others. Cliff Schecter writes for the Daily Beast. From his post:
How do you take an unstable situation, be it a Hurricane Sandy-ish storm making shore, an accident causing mass casualties or a riot, and make it even more fun (read: awful) for those unlucky enough to be caught in it? Why add in the carte blanche right of amateurs to carry assault weapons and pistols with high-capacity magazines, and that ought to do it. Of course an idea this ridiculous could only happen in one place: Florida. (...) 
Their can-do spirit comes in the form of the disgruntled marching into a school-board meeting in Panama City and firing on the assembled members in an attempt to get his wife’s job back. Shooting a man for texting his babysitter from a movie theater. And returning a Glock pistol and assault rifle to a gentleman named Wayne Rogers, after he shot his “drinking buddy.” And killed him. Did I mention Rogers is blind? 
You can read about much more lunacy in this blog post. One thing we know for certain-we are living in crazy times when the "guys with the guns" are managing to pass crazy laws that will only be worse for public safety. Sanity needs to prevail. Pay attention everyone. This is the crazy every day world in which the gun lobby wants us all to reside. I, for one, am not interested.

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