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.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Guns are not toys

Don't we all understand that guns are dangerous? They are deadly weapons. They are among the few if not the only product purchased by average citizens that are designed specifically to harm or kill another human being. We in America treat guns so cavalierly that we allow people to carry them around in public places loaded and even openly holstered as if ready for battle. Also there's the ludicrous notion that rifles and assault type weapons should be carried openly where we dine, shop, play and do government business as if there is danger lurking around every corner. Guns like this don't belong in public.

The thing is, the danger is mostly coming from average folks who start "fooling around" with their guns, or forget they are loaded, or play with them as if toys or have a heated argument, or have anti-government sentiments and ready to wage war. People who buy guns have no particular training in how to use them. We don't ask that as a requirement to own a gun. We do require this for people to drive cars and operate certain equipment. We do make sure that professionals in various fields be properly trained and certified in order to work in health care, law, education, law enforcement, accounting, finance, scientific fields, etc. And then we require re-certification to make sure people keep up the latest and be current so that we can all be safe and secure when going about our every day lives.

This is all to protect us from harm. But when it comes to guns- not so much. In some states, actual hands-on training with an actual gun is required in order to get a permit to carry it around in public. But some gun carriers in some states don't even need training or a permit to carry a loaded lethal weapon around with them. The last quote from a permit to carry trainer in this great article exposing this dangerous practice is instructive:
A few weeks after my graduation, I call up Dukes. My application is still being processed, but a question has been nagging at me: What did a seasoned instructor think about the fact that pretty much anyone could walk in and get a Utah permit without demonstrating a lick of proficiency with a gun? While he seems disappointed that I signed up for the class with no actual desire to protect myself, he hardly hesitates: "The Constitution doesn't say you need it."
The Constitution says nothing about a right to carry a gun in public. More lies.

Treating guns so cavalierly is a really bad idea.

And then there's the corporate gun lobby, arguing fiercely and pretty effectively, that guns make us all safer and more guns carried by anyone everywhere are a great idea. And so we have ridiculous photos of guys dressed in "camo" carrying guns around on their chests or backs. They must think this makes us all feel safer and more comfortable. They would be wrong.

So why don't these folks have more respect for the deadly nature of guns? There is an assumption that if only one has a gun or two lying around the house, all will be well. Nothing will ever happen until, of course, it does. Or people drink while operating guns. Bad idea to say the least. Or do drugs- also a bad idea. And what about driving around with a gun in your car just in case you encounter a zombie along the road? It's too late for this law abiding gun owner. He was driving along the road and somehow had his gun out where he was fooling with it. Now he's dead. From the article:
A Tennessee man accidentally shot and killed himself while driving, according to Talking Points Memo.
The accident occurred in Chattanooga while the driver, 49-year-old James Anthony McKenzie, was traveling on Tennessee Highway 58. Meigs County Detective Scott Wiggins told WTVC that McKenzie shot himself with a handgun in the thigh. The deputies were called in to investigate reports of a seizure, but by the time they arrived, McKenzie had already bled out from the gunshot wound to his leg.
He did, however, manage to pull off the road, despite the pain and rapid bleeding from the gunshot wound, to keep from causing an accident and injuring others.
The police are still trying to figure out how the weapon discharged. McKenzie had a valid permit for the firearm, and was the son of former Meigs County sheriff, R.L. McKenzie. Deputies are using Mr. McKenzie’s death as a warning to others to be careful around firearms, according to WTVC.
And the Sheriff had to issue a common sense warning as if people who own or carry guns didn't know this? Or maybe they actually don't which is quite frightening. His warning was to tell people not to fool around with their guns. Duh. The writer of this article ends this way:
I would make sure you weren’t “foolin’ with it” at all, since a gun is not a toy and not something to take lightly, but I’m just an evil, anti-gun liberal.  What do I know?
What did the guy who shot himself know? Apparently not enough about guns to keep from shooting himself to death. This scene repeats itself all over America on a regular basis. This Indiana man thought his gun was unloaded when he pointed it at a young child with a toy gun as they were "playing" with their guns. Now the 3 year old is dead and the man who shot him is facing prison time. From the article:
A northern Indiana man has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the shooting death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old son while playing a gun game with the boy. (...) Authorities say Grisham pointed a handgun at Lance Wilson while the boy was pointing a toy gun back in September 2013. Grisham told police he forgot his gun was loaded before it fired, killing Lance.

And then there is this Florida man who was "fooling around" with his gun and now his room mate is dead:
 A roommate was showing off his new pistol and accidentally shot, and killed, his roommate.
Kyle Guessford and Austin Brunson were at their home on 50th Avenue in Bradenton with two other people who were visiting. live at the above location. Kyle was in his room checking out several accessories he had just purchased for his pistol and came out his new firearm in his hand.
As he entered the living room he switched the weapon mounted flashlight on and the firearm discharged hitting Austin in the head. Austin was pronounced dead when the EMS arrived.
And why would a 14 year old Florida boy shoot his 16 year old brother over clothing? This incident happened in May but we were so focused on the Isla Vista shooting that it slipped by without much notice. But it is an American tragedy for sure. More from the article:
Family members told CBS4 News that 14-year-old Stephen Odeus shot his brother, 16-year-old Stanley Blanc, after the two fought over who could wear each other’s clothes.
After realizing what he had done — and before anyone could stop him — Stephen ran across the apartment complex and used the same gun to take his own life.
The teenagers’ older brother, Marc Blanc, told CBS4 News that it “started off as a small petty argument, but escalated into a fight.”
Kedner Louis, a friend of the family who was present at the scene, said that “Stanley wanted to wear Stephen’s clothes, Stephen didn’t want him to.”
He says family members separated the pair inside the apartment, but the fight spilled over into the grounds outside, where Stephen Odeus shot his brother Stanley.
“Right before my eyes, my brother just shot my other brother,” Blanc said. He saw Stephen run away, and shortly thereafter, heard another gunshot.
There are, of course, many questions about this awful incident. Where did the 14 year old get a gun in the first place? Family arguments over clothing shouldn't end with the death of both participants in the argument. But when a gun is available, that is how they sometimes turn out. How will the older brother heal from watching this awful scene? Guns are not toys. They cause way too many needless deaths.

You just can't make this stuff up and it happens mainly and almost exclusively in America.

Senseless and avoidable and really dumb. Guns are not toys.

And I must end with the story of the 2nd mass shooting in a week and the 3rd in 2 weeks. This time 2 armed people ambushed armed police officers in a Las Vegas pizza place and shot them to death. Then they moved their shooting operation across the way to a Walmart where they shot one innocent person and themselves. More from the article:
The spree began late Sunday morning when a man and woman walked into CiCi's Pizza and shot two officers who were eating lunch at point-blank range, Las Vegas police spokesman Larry Hadfield said.
The suspects then fled to the Walmart across the street, where they fatally shot a person inside and then killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact, he said.
"I am devastated by the news today of two officers and an innocent bystander who were murdered in an act of senseless violence," Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families."
One of the suspects yelled, "This is a revolution," but the motive for the shooting remains under investigation, Hadfield said.
"We don't know anything about the suspects yet and are trying to learn more," Hadfield told The Associated Press. "I think in any case where people are ambushed and shot it's upsetting to the public."
Yes. These kinds of things are upsetting to the public. Of course they are. They shouldn't be happening. Where will the next one happen? Who will be the next innocent bunch of citizens? This one lends the lie to the corporate gun lobby talking points that only a good guy with a gun can protect people from the bad guys. First of all, were the shooters bad guys before the assault began? Were they law abiding gun owners who believed in the insurrectionist talk coming from some gun rights extremists? New information released now reveals that the shooters were part of a White Supremacist anti-government group. From this article:
Without warning, they were fatally shot at point-blank range by a man and a woman who then swiped the officers’ weapons, ammunition and badges, according to the Review-Journal. “This is a revolution,” one of the suspects shouted, according to witnesses.
The couple then reportedly covered the officers’ bodies with a cloth showing a Revolutionary War-era flag.
The newspaper reported it was the Gadsden flag, a yellow background with a coiled snake above the words, “Don’t tread on me.” Named for Christopher Gadsden, the Revolutionary War general who designed it, the flag has been more recently associated with the American Tea Party movement and, by some, with the Confederacy.
Frightening to say the least. I have written before about the "Don't tread on me" phrase and what it means. I have written before about people ready to fight against their own government. This kind of rhetoric is fomented by the far right and gun rights extremists and even the corporate gun lobby. The big question is whether these shooters were considered "law abiding" gun owners before the shooting. Where did they get their guns? Were they legally obtained? Were they prohibited purchasers?

Secondly, the "good guys with the guns" were taken out right away by the shooters who then took their guns. And Walmart can not be said to be a gun free zone so there's another lie. The big lie is that more guns make us safer. That is the lie that needs to be examined and dispelled.

So why is it again that we have allowed the corporate gun lobby talking points to win the arguments and the discussion? They just can't mean these folks when they talk about "good guys" with guns. They just can't mean these folks when they believe that those who are law abiding won't do anything wrong. So what are they talking about again? It's time to press the questions and require the answers. And it's time to tell our elected officials who refuse to do anything about our national public health and safety problem to stop listening to these lies. The truth lies in what is actually happening every day in America. It is not a pretty picture. Guns are serious weapons of death and destruction. They are not toys. They are not to be played with or fooled with or used in petty arguments or in selfish acts of violence and revolution.

Don't you think it's time to stop this nonsense? Don't you think it's time the corporate gun lobby's talking points get a good and thorough investigation and then dispelled as the lies that they are. For that is the only way any sort of common sense can break out in our country. This serious business and national tragedy as written about here in the Kansas City Star:
Instead of doing more to prevent gun violence, state and federal lawmakers are liberalizing gun laws, making it possible for more people — many mentally unstable — to get more guns. More guns — especially those with greater killing ability — will only lead to more gun violence.
These aren’t hunters in the woods waiting for quail, wild turkeys, ducks and deer. People are in the cross hairs, leading to more deaths, more grieving and tears.
Closure never occurs. It’s always interrupted by the next mass killing — nowhere else on Earth but in America.
 Lives are lost every day senselessly and we can't sit by and let it continue.


I just ran across this touching and beautiful blog post written by a friend of one of the slain Las Vegas police officers. Shooters must not think of their targeted victims as real human beings with real families and real friends. From the blog:
These killers weren’t patriots. They weren’t revolutionaries. They weren’t heroes. They were just sickos. They were murderers. They were were cowards.
If you’re frustrated with government, if you’re worried about the republic, if you’re convinced black helicopters are watching you in the night, if you think Obama is a reptile alien sent to destroy the human race, or whatever is under your skin, do us all a favor: start a blog, write a book, go to a protest, join a cause, call a senator, call a talk show, run for office, do what people in a free society do, not what people in the Lord of the Flies would. And if you just can’t restrain yourself from going on a murderous rampage followed by your own cowardly suicide, do the rest of us a favor and do it in reverse order.
Shooting a cop doesn’t make you a revolutionary. It just makes things worse…for everyone.

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