Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Don't tread on me"

Let's talk about the latest news about the Minnesota teen who has been accused of a plot to kill his parents and then bomb/shoot up his school. Yesterday there was a hearing to charge the 17 year old. He plead not guilty of a plot that was explained explicitly in his 180 page notebook about his plans. I wrote before about the idea that keeping a gun safe in the bedroom of a teen was a bad idea for many reasons. Another article points out the reasoning of the boy's father about why that happened. From the article:

"The father was still struggling to make sense of the dark and violent thoughts that apparently clouded the mind of his son, an honor-roll student. He still couldn’t believe the teenager would have carried out the murderous plan.

“I understand everyone wants to know and try to make sense of it, and it’s real easy if we could … give it a simple answer like ‘he’s a maniac.’ Or ‘his parents just bought him [stuff] and ignored him,’ ” LaDue said. “It would really be nice if it was that simple. … I wish it was that simple.” (...) Remembering his own rebellious formative years, LaDue said he had tried to be careful as a parent to toe the delicate line of guiding his children and not pushing them too hard. (...)

Looking back, David LaDue, blue eyes peeking out from under a cap, said he feels he failed the boy by giving him more free rein than he should have:

John, a deer hunter, was allowed to keep some of his father’s guns in a safe in his own bedroom closet, partly because he was trusted to watch out for the family when his father worked overnights in the Twin Cities. John also was allowed to practice throwing Tomahawk knives at an old pine tree in the front yard — one that his father delayed cutting down because of the cardinal’s nest it cradled, he said.

David LaDue also gave his son the OK to walk to a friend’s house after the town curfew once, a decision that led to a citation for the boy, the elder LaDue said.

“I tried to indulge him in every way that I thought was harmless,” David LaDue said, adding later: “I feel responsible for everything other than his fantasies or imaginations that I was unaware of.”"

I get that this father must be in agony over what his son was plotting to do. What an awful feeling to know that your son was plotting to kill you and the rest of the family and then carry out what would have been a terrible tragedy in a small town in Minnesota. And to his credit, he takes responsibility for some of his son's behavior. As parents we understand that we can't be held responsible for everything our children will or will not do in their lives. But surely we have to think about how we model appropriate behavior for them and keep them from harm or harming others. So is it a good idea to allow a teen to think his job is to protect the family with guns bought by a father and then stored in the son's bedroom?

But I want to go back to the first linked article, above. From the article:
LaDue was charged as a ­juvenile with four counts of attempted murder, two counts of first-degree damage to property and six counts of possession of a bomb by someone under 18. If convicted of one count of first-degree attempted murder as an adult, LaDue could serve up to 18 years, according to state guidelines. But if he’s convicted as a juvenile, he could be released from detention when he turns 21. (...)  
Upon entering the courtroom, LaDue stared at his father, who was sitting in the gallery wearing a black long-sleeved National Rifle Association T-shirt that read “Don’t tread on me.”
If anyone is wondering where this teen got some of his ideas, perhaps we should turn our attention to the pervasive idea promoted by the corporate gun lobby that guns are necessary in case the tyrannical government tries to "tread" on its' citizens. Here is one explanation about the "don't tread on me" wording.

And here are some photos of the t-shirt for sale at an NRA website, likely worn by the father of the Minnesota teen. You can see for yourself what it means in this context. From the site:
"What goes around comes around. In the late 18th century, oppressed American patriots voiced their defiance of tyranny by exclaiming, “Don’t Tread on Me!” Perhaps it’s time once again for Freedom-loving citizens to rally ’round the legendary slogan of the famous Gadsden flag. Our tee is heavy, 6.1 oz., 100% cotton with “NRA” boldly screened on its chest and the “Don’t Tread on Me” "
"Defiance of tyranny." Does wearing that t-shirt exhibit defiance or was it a message to the son who must have noticed the shirt at the hearing? He had seen that shirt likely many times before. Did the 17 year old get the message meant by the slogan on the shirt? I'm just asking. The idea that people with guns believe that this slogan is appropriate is beyond me. I wrote in my last post about parents as role models. But what leads the father, who agonized in the second linked article about what went wrong and his own responsibility for some of what happened, to wear this t-shirt to his son's court hearing? What kind of role model is it to allow your son to have a gun safe in his bedroom closet, wear an NRA t-shirt with a provocative slogan on it and then wonder how all of this could have happened? This is sad and disturbing.

We have a problem in America with guns and a gun culture gone terribly wrong. All you have to do is look, again, at the latest Week-end Gun Report by Joe Nocera of the New York Times to understand what I am talking about. Just read the first paragraph of incidents to get the picture:
Maribella Willard, 4, was shot and killed by her father, 34-year-old Jesse Willard, who then fatally shot himself in north Portland, Ore., Thursday night. Willard had been struggling with mental health issues. A 28-year-old man allegedly shot and killed his 52-year-old girlfriend, her 17-year-old son and 25-year-old daughter before killing himself in their home in Pomona, Calif., late Thursday. A.J. Hagner, 8, was shot in the leg while riding his bike across from a playground in Chester County, Pa., Friday afternoon; Wayne Snowden, 55, alledgedly opened fire with a 9mm Glock handgun from his front porch.
How can a father shoot his 4 year old child? Why did he have a gun with those kinds of mental health problems? How could a young man shoot his much older girlfriend, her son, daughter and himself in a mass shooting? By the way- homes are not gun free zones so, according to the gun lobby, people should have guns in homes and other "gun free zones" to protect themselves from people with guns who might want to do harm. The irony is stunning really. And shouldn't 8 year old children be able to ride bikes without adults opening fire with a handgun from their front porches? What is going wrong? Where is common sense? And these are just a few of the many incidents just for last week-end alone.

You can read the rest for yourself and decide if this is the kind of communities we want for our country.

You can read the latest Gun Report here for yet more shooting incidents. Just another day in America. This report began with a listing of gang shootings. This is a serious problem that must be addressed. Where do young gang members get their guns? The question needs to be asked and answered. All guns start out as legal purchases. If we were serious about gun trafficking, background checks, reporting of lost and stolen guns and safe gun storage, we could do a better job of preventing guns from getting into the hands of those who shouldn't have them.

And speaking of things going terribly wrong, what do you call this incident of a former New Hampshire police in a domestic dispute and then shooting and killing an officer who responded the emergency call? The shooter apparently died in a fire and explosion that engulfed the house. More from this article:
Neighbor Susan Hughes said she saw one police officer arrive at the home and then heard "rapid gun fire" as soon as the officer entered. It's not known if the officer she saw was Arkell or the second officer.
"We started looking around to see what was going on, we were curious and wondering what was happening," she said. "And then we started seeing all these cops coming."
Her husband, Wayne, said police responded after other neighbors heard an argument coming from the home and called 911. An officer arrived, and Hughes said he heard gunshots a short time later. Hughes said police ordered him to go into his cellar for safety before he was evacuated by police in a Humvee.
The incident brought dozens of police cruisers to the area. The Seacoast Emergency Response SWAT team was sent to the scene with an armored vehicle.
Fire Chief Kevin Lemoine said the explosion that followed the shooting shook the vehicle he was sitting in on the road. Seventy-five firefighters from multiple departments responded and none were injured he said.
Ruth Michel, who lives in the neighborhood, said that at about 5 p.m. she could see smoke in the area and that police officers were running through the neighborhood and the abutting woods.
She said the neighborhood is for residents 55 years old and older and that the president of the Mill Pond Association knocked on residents' doors and warned them to stay inside with their doors locked.
This doesn't seem like your usual domestic shooting. The shooter was obviously an angry man who was living with his elderly father in what is described as a peaceful neighborhood for people 55 and over. This is the gun culture we have in America. Was this man a "law abiding" gun owner? He was a former police officer after all. We will learn more in coming days.

Before I had a chance to post this today, another school shooting happened in, of all states, Georgia- the land of guns everywhere. I wrote a post about that a while ago. Remember the shooting at a Fed Ex facility near Atlanta? I do. Read my post. But I digress. From the above linked article:
At least five people, four students, have been shot near Therrell High School in Atlanta.
Atanta Public Schools confirmed at least four of the victims are students. Police said the injuries appear non-life-threatening. Atlanta police would only confirm that five people are shot.
It's just another day in America. School shootings, domestic shootings, fathers shooting children, children shooting each other, gang shootings, armed citizens shooting police officers......


When guns are owned by so many people who are afraid of their own shadows, their own government, their own family members, and other innocent people who have done nothing to deserve death, the carnage is inevitable. It doesn't have to be this way. We can change things by passing laws to require background checks on all guns sales. We can change things by making sure those with mental illness, domestic abuse orders for protection, teens, felons and others don't get their hands on guns. It will require a change to the conversation and a change to the way we look at the risks of guns in homes and public places. Guns do not make us safer as the corporate gun lobby wants us to believe. The fact that our elected leaders have so much fear of being attacked in elections by the powerful gun lobby is a disturbing view of American politics and a lack of courage to challenge the deceptions brought to us by the gun lobby. We need to demand that our politicians do what they know is right and protect Americans from the violence that is so pervasive in our country. We can do better than this. Let's get to work.

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