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, May 17, 2014

Random thoughts on guns and gun violence prevention

So we are at our cabin on a small lake which has been our place of refuge and peace for 38 years now. We built the cabin and over the years have done a lot of remodeling and upgrading, the last of which included digging a basement under the cabin and putting in a Geothermal heating system. As a result, we can be here throughout the year and don't have to shut down the water supply and take all the food and other freezable items home. It has been a wonderful treat to our entire family. This winter, we cleared a place on the ice for a rink and we skated for several days over Thanksgiving. The conditions were perfect. Then we took to snow shoeing, cross country skiing and using a snow mobile that my brother loaned to us. The grandchildren loved it. In spite of the very cold and snowy winter we have been able to be at the cabin and enjoy our family time.

Today, though, there have been gunshots. My husband, a hunter with a hunter's ear, thinks the sound is that of a shot gun. But then he said it could be a hunting rifle. If the latter, it makes me nervous. Bullets don't know where to stop and I have written before on this blog about stray bullets hitting innocent people when others have been target shooting in their yards or in the woods don't pay good attention to safety rules. I posted about this on my Facebook page and one of my friends noted that you can shoot in your yard ( outside of the city limits) if you are more than 50 feet from the road and 100 feet from property of someone else. And sound travels, as someone else pointed out. All true. We think we know where this is coming from and it is unlikely it is more than 50 feet from the road. There is a park and a boat landing across the lake and near to where the sounds of gun fire are coming from. Next week-end (Memorial Day) there will be people fishing and enjoying the park- maybe even camping there. Our grandchildren will be here playing on the beach by the lake and we will all be pontooning, canoeing and kayaking. This is not a good recipe for a safe time if the person shooting decides to do it again next week-end.

The thing is, I get that people love to target shoot and skeet shoot. I know many who do and it is fun for those folks. I get that part. But I also know how many times I post on this blog about accidents happening. When they happen it is a tragedy for the person shot, that person's family and friends and for the shooter. Guns are dangerous. They are designed to shoot ( and kill) animals and people. At the least, we have to require that if people are going to participate in shooting sports, they do so safely with the idea in mind that they could endanger the life of another. It's only common sense. What I worry about is that some folks with guns have none.

I just returned from a trip to the nation's Capitol for a meeting. I had read an article before going about a proposed rally to rid the Capitol, and therefore the country, of President Obama and others who are not to the liking of the group. Speaking of no common sense, this group called Operation American Spring,  hoped that 10-30 million "like minded" people would come to this show of force on Friday ( yesterday) while I was also there. Here is what happened ( from The Rachel Maddow show) instead:
If you take the phrase “10 to 30 million Americans” literally, Operation American Spring was a great success, at least insofar as more than 10 people did, in fact, show up. Regrettably for the far-right, however, not much more (thanks to my colleague Julia Nutter for the heads-up).
Operation American Spring, billed as a Friday morning multi-million patriot march on Washington, D.C., to oust leadership from the nation’s capital – from President Obama to House Speaker John Boehner – has proven woefully below expectations.
“It’s a very dismal turnout,” said Jackie Milton, 61, a Jacksboro, Texas, resident and the head of Texans for Operation American Spring, to The Washington Times. He said hopes were high when he arrived in Alexandria, Va., a day or so ago and found motels and hotels were sold out for 30 miles around.
Yes. It was a busy time in DC. Lots of conventions and graduations were going on. The traffic was nuts. I guess that's one excuse. And then it rained. I guess that's another. But I would have noticed tens of millions of people rallying on the National Mall had they been there. They weren't. What is this about anyway? Are these folks serious? From another article about the "non-event":
An event slated for Friday that promised to bring millions of Americans to Washington, D.C. to oust President Barack Obama and other key leaders from office failed incredibly.
Instead, “Operation American Spring” welcomed only a few dozen protesters — not the millions projected by event organizers — who braved the morning’s stormy weather to hit the streets of the nation’s capital and call for a change of leadership in key roles.
“It’s a very dismal turnout,” one participant from Texas, Jackie Milton, told the Washington Times.

“We were getting over two inches of rain in hour in parts of Virginia this morning,” he added. “Now it’s a nice sunny day. But this is a very poor turnout. It ain’t no millions. And it ain’t looking like there’s going to be millions. Hundreds is more like it.”
Dismal is hardly the word. Just loony is better.  I see loons on my lake already this season. Why have more of them flocking to a ridiculous cause such as this one? Here is what they are about ( from the article):
Operation American Spring aimed to “restore the balance of our Bill of Rights and the Constitution,” in part by replacing “a handful of the worst Republican and Democrat” holders of office.
I rest my case. How do these folks intend to carry out their plans? I'm just asking. In other crazy gun news, the NRA's leaders are trying really hard to appeal to women and minorities with their new web series featuring Colion Noir. From this Media Matters article:
Early reviews of Noir report that it reeks of inauthenticity. Indeed the 16-minute premiere episode is rife with product placements and lame pop culture and sports references, all awkwardly interspersed between features on high-powered, expensive-looking firearms.
In one cringe-worthy moment, Noir complains that the cardboard box his $5,000 rifle came in looks like "a Build-A-Bear beginning set of a homeless guy's apartment." During a glowing review of a compact Smith & Wesson handgun, Noir analogizes the pistol to Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson: "Sure he is small and unimposing, but the moment you drop your guard he will tear your ass up." There is also an obligatory twerking reference.  (...) As the reviews of Noir invariably point out, millennials are less likely to own guns and more likely to support regulation of firearms, compared to older generations.
Beyond the widely noted production and messaging problems, the NRA has failed to create a different message that can resonate with young people with Noir. The NRA must realize that young people are unlikely to embrace the bombastic paranoid rants of its executive vice president Wayne LaPierre. But as the video below shows, Noir is more of the same from the NRA, only delivered with a less abrasive tone and buried between pop culture references.
And here is a video from the linked article, above so you can judge for yourselves:

"We're coming for you"? Really? This is pathetic. And what does it mean? How are "they" coming for us? With guns blazing? For that is what seems to be intended by that statement. Such encouragement to insurrection is a really bad idea. Apparently LaPierre and others believe this stuff. The lies and deceptions are just beyond belief. Raise your hand if you are a fan of this nonsense. "A bare knuckles street fight"? And the paranoia about Hillary Clinton is above pathetic and loony. And more, the NRA's own leader, Wayne LaPierre says that "they intend to finish the job..." and rattles on with his jibberish creating fear in the hearts and minds of those who don't seem to care about the truth.

Yes, Mr. La Pierre, we need to finish the job. We need to finish the job started when Congress passed the Brady bill into law 20 years ago requiring background checks for gun sales at Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers. About 40% of gun sales in today's market- at gun shows, flea market, Internet sales and private sales go without background checks because Congress has decided that the NRA's lobbyists and leaders represent their voters. They are wrong of course. This group of folks represents a minority of Americans who have been scared into believing that this simple system of stopping people like felons, domestic abusers, those who are dangerously mentally ill, minors and others from getting guns will somehow affect their own rights to own guns. Crazy talk.

What is really happening because of our loose gun laws are cases like the Chicago man who was caught gun running in March of 2012. He was buying guns at an Indiana gun show and bringing them into Chicago to sell to gang members where they have been used to injure and kill others. Now he has been sentenced for his crime. From the article:
On Wednesday, a federal judge sentenced Lewisbey to almost 17 years in prison for running a large gun-smuggling scheme that helped illustrate how firearms sold in other states end up on some of Chicago's most violent streets.
 “This case is a perfect example of where the guns come from,” U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman said in handing down the stiff sentence for David “Big Man” Lewisbey. “This is how the guns get onto the streets of the city of Chicago, into the hands of gangbangers who then shoot them and kill people with them.”
A front-page story last year in the Tribune focused on the case as illustrating the tidal wave of illegal guns confronting Chicago police as they battle the city’s seemingly intractable violence.
This is not illegal. Private sellers can sell guns to anyone at gun shows all over America. It's not illegal and it's nuts. But we allow it to happen and lives are lost as a result. Illegal guns don't fall from the sky. Gun shows are one source of the illegal guns found on our streets.

"Bad apple" gun dealers also account for a number of illegal guns through allowing straw purchasing. A case was just settled in Mississippi against one such "bad apple"dealer. From the article:
Thomas Wortham IV, 30, was killed May 19, 2010, in front of his parents' South Side home as he tried to stop four men from stealing his motorcycle. He had recently completed his second tour of duty in Iraq.
"Our son survived the battlefields of Iraq, but could not survive the streets of his hometown, and nothing can undo that tragic fact," Carolyn Wortham said. "I know that Tommy would have wanted me to fight so that other families would be spared the tragedy ours has suffered."
Telephone calls to Ed's Pawn Shop & Salvage Yard for comment from owner Bruce Edward Archer weren't answered.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the Worthams by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Legal Action Project in federal court in Mississippi.
"It is far too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to obtain guns in America," said project director Jonathan Lowy. "To reduce the flow of guns to the criminal market, the gun industry needs to be a part of the solution, and stop being a large part of the problem."
The lawsuit alleged that Ed's Pawn Shop & Salvage Yard "knew or should have known at the time of the sale that the sale of the handgun to Michael Elliott, a straw purchaser, was illegal, as Elliott was conspiring with a gun trafficker."
We can stop if this if we have the will and the courage to face down the lies and tell the truth about what is really happening on our streets and in our homes. Guns are dangerous. They should be harder to get- not easier.

It's time for all of this to change. This is not the America we want or deserve. Let's get to work and make the changes that will lead to a safer America.



  1. Smarmy, arrogant and hoplophobic, like most things written by anti-gun nuts.
    Yes we are coming for you.
    You people started this political war on guns and now we're going to fight back harder than ever.
    If that's a problem for you think about it next time you take it upon yourselves to go after people who have done and will do nothing to hurt you.
    But we both know you're too cowardly to go after the real threat,so you take the easy route.
    Well it's not going to be so easy anymore :)

    1. Rarely do I publish comments like this one. But I think my readers deserve to see this one. Is this a real threat or a veiled threat or both? What are you talking about anyway? What fight? No one is going after you or trying to hurt you. I wonder if you can say the same C Brooks. Be careful what you write.

  2. I don't believe Bloomberg or MAIG is really about safety or saving children.

    Because having a swimming pool at home is 100 times more likely to lead to child death than having a gun in the house. The statistics back this up.

    It's all about confiscation, just post the truth.

  3. On the subject of "paranoia": You'll recall that the NRA was ridiculed for predicting that the President would start pushing for restrictions on gun ownership, especially at the end of his first term. They were called paranoid because, in four years, he'd done virtually nothing. And, then, in his second term, once he had nothing to lose, he did exactly as was expected. It's not paranoia if someone really is out to get you. That said, I don't believe the President had any worse intentions than any other act of a politician.
    I certainly share your disdain for this Operation American Spring group, I'll say.
    Yes, gun owners are a minority. They account for roughly a third of the nation, however. In elections that typically come down to two or three percentage of majority, cutting out ~33% of your potential votes is political suicide. In some constituencies, gun owners account for a smaller number, and politicians like Diane Feinstein can be certain they're not going to vote for them anyway. In other constituencies, they are actually the majority. In Montana, you'd probably have to be a card-carrying member of the NRA to win an election. So, the failures of the gun control movement to achieve anything in the last few years isn't that they're not listening to the majority. They've realized that those who are against gun rights generally don't care about the issue that strongly, and that that ~33% of the country that are gun owners generally care pretty strongly about the issue. In other words, a gun control supporter is less likely to vote for or against a politician for their stance on guns than a gun owner is. I'd be willing to bet that if the Democratic Party dropped the gun issue entirely, and could somehow prove that they were doing so and sticking to it, the Republican Party would be doomed. There are a lot of us, myself included, that are very conflicted come election time. I don't want to vote for the typical Republican candidate, because I don't agree with 90% of their platform. At the same time, I don't want to vote for the typical Democrat, because I value my human right of self-defense, and anyone that opposes even one human right is not worthy of office.
    A little information to help you:
    1.) *any* transfer of a firearm has a legal restriction, however "soft." Even if no background checks are done, the seller/giver must be reasonably certain the buyer/recipient is not prohibited from owning a gun. If it can be proven they knew the recipient was a felon, for example, they face prison time. Don't think for a second that the ATF doesn't keep an eye on online gun sales and gun shows.
    2.) There are already laws in place prohibiting felons, crazies, and drug users (among other categories) from possession of firearms. It's not that we need more laws doing so, we need to enforce this law properly.
    3.) Gun dealers never "allow" a straw purchase. Straw purchases, in case you're not aware, are when person A gets person B to buy a gun for them because person A cannot legally possess them. If it's obvious that this is what is going on, the gun dealer will not only refuse to do the sale, but probably throw both persons out of the store. The problem is when there's nothing to suggest that that is happening. The ATF does run occasional Secret Shopper sorts of stings, and on every single gun dealer in the country.

    1. Dear Tim,

      It's hard to know where to start. As you recall, President Obama was more than upset and disturbed by the Sandy Hook shooting as was the entire nation. 90% if Americans, and yes, even gun owners, said they wanted to expand Brady background checks to private sales. Why not? In the 20 years those background checks have been in place, they have not led to gun confiscation or registration. Why would requiring the same suddenly to this? There is no answer for that. It is supposition. Those checks, however, are not required for private sales. Private sellers hopefully do not knowingly sell to felons, domestic abusers, etc. but they would have no idea, would they, to whom they sell their guns because they don't do a background check on the seller. There are numerous shootings incidents where a background check would have made it much more difficult for the buyer to get a gun. That would be good, don't you think? And since it wouldn't lead to an erosion of your rights, you would not have to worry about it- unless, of course, you fall into one of the prohibited categories. I hope you don't.

      I am aware of what straw purchases are. I don't need you to explain that to me. Perhaps you missed the point of the article about the dealer who allowed the straw purchase in the case I provided. About 1% of gun dealers are "bad apple" dealers. If we can save lives by making those straw purchases less frequent and the penalties for selling guns to straw purchasers stronger, we can save lives. I believe that saving even one life is worth this effort. I hope you agree. And yes, some gun dealers do "allow" straw purchases to take place. Do a little research.


  4. In response to Compking: http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/water-safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html
    "Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.1"

    Drownings are responsible for a lot of unintentional deaths in children. You are right about that. And what do we do about it? We require people to put a fence around their personal swimming pools if they have them. Not all drownings occur in swimming pools though. If you read this, the main reason for the drownings is lack of swimming ability though lack of supervision could account for some of that. I know how this works. My sister- the one who was shot by her estranged husband, lost her only daughter when she was less than 2 years old, to a drowning in the lake behind their house.

    All of that, however, has nothing to do with the fact that many children also lose their lives to accidental and intentional gun discharges. I hope you are not saying that because more children at a certain age die from drownings than from gun deaths, we should do nothing about gun deaths. A gun in the home is a large risk to the people who live in the home. Too many children die regularly from access to guns that have been left unsecured by their parents or another adult. This is unacceptable. I hope you agree. In total, 8 children 18 and under die a day from gun injuries in the U.S. This is unacceptable. That's why I am doing what I do. Prevention can result in fewer deaths. Isn't that a good thing?


    Safety and prevention should be our common goal when it comes to our children. I'm sure you agree with that.