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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Monday, June 2, 2014

Not One More- shooting- Open Carry rally- mistaken gun extremist

From Wisconsin Anti Violence Effort
In light of the mass shooting at Isla Vista you would think that the gun rights extremists would sit back and be quiet, at least for a while. But their insensitivity and brazen shows of fire power don't take a break for victims. They don't seem to care about victims. I assume that admitting to the fact that real lives are lost and real families are grieving because of senseless shootings just doesn't fit with their narrative that "more guns make us safer" or that "guns don't kill people" or "an armed society is a polite society" or that rights come with no responsibilities or restrictions. They are wrong and it's becoming increasingly obvious that they are wrong. They are extremists who go too far to make some false point about guns that is lost on most of the public. So it continues to be jarring to see the Texas Open Carry folks displaying their weapons openly at restaurants and other stores in Texas. They are making quite a spectacle of themselves. The latest gathering of the armed and ridiculous looking group was at a Home Depot outside of Dallas.

The thing is, an armed society is not a polite society. It is a scared and paranoid society and it will inevitably lead to more gun violence. More guns have not made us safer. This we know for a fact by just opening up a daily newspaper or reading about the many shootings on-line.

Speaking of jarring, take a look at the photo of the mother with her 10 month old twins and an assault rifle hanging around her neck ( in the linked article about the Home Depot rally). In what other country do you see a mother's love for her children displayed in this way? What message is this sending? And really folks, how stupid and ridiculous is it to carry a heavy weapon around with you when you have little kids? Not only is it dangerous, it is inconvenient.  How could anyone possibly believe that this weapon could be used in self defense? No one needs a gun like that for self defense in the first place. But guns and kids just do not go together. We have enough evidence of that from the daily shootings of and by kids. Check out Kid Shootings and the Gun Report  if you don't believe the truth of the matter. In fact, it's hard to keep up with the shootings of children on these blogs in order to adequately report on them. This is absolutely unacceptable and represents a gun culture gone very wrong.

Even the NRA-ILA thinks the behavior of the Texas Open Carry extremists is pretty stupid:
Evidently the National Rifle Association has come to realize that none of this is good for business. In an extraordinary move on Friday, the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action—the organization's powerful lobbying arm in Washington—issued a lengthy statement seeking to distinguish between "responsible behavior" and "legal mandates." It told the Texas gun activists in no uncertain terms to stand down.
"As gun owners, whether or not our decisions are dictated by the law, we are still accountable for them," the statement began. "If we exercise poor judgment, our decisions will have consequences…such as turning an undecided voter into an antigun voter because of causing that person fear or offense." The NRA praised the "robust gun culture" of Texas—which recently has loosened laws as aggressively as any state—but then laid into those Texans "who have crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness."
Duh. Do you think? The rest of us know this. It's about time the NRA's leaders figured this one out for themselves. We don't want your loaded assault rifles in public. Foolish is a mild way to describe what is happening in Texas. But there's an agenda here that might get derailed if these Texas folks continue their foolishness. Let's take a look, from the article:
The problem has been on the NRA's radar at least since April. In a roundtable discussion hosted by a Texas podcaster on April 28, Charles Cotton, a long-serving member of the NRA board of directors based in Houston, and Alice Tripp, lobbyist and legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA), squared off with CJ Grisham, the founder and president of Open Carry Texas. Cotton and Tripp, who have both been deeply involved in passing pro-gun laws in Texas for many years, warned Grisham that his group's demonstrations were causing them major grief with their allies in the capitol.
"We do control a massive number of votes," Cotton pointed out.
"I'm in the capitol three times a week," Tripp added. "Every [lawmaker's] office I went into today asked me, 'Can't you do something to stop the rifle demonstrations?'" One lawmaker told Tripp that he'd gotten a phone call from the Republican mayor of Arlington—the site of several provocative open-carry incidents—who'd been "absolutely incensed." The demonstrations were seriously harming the overall mission to ease gun laws further, she said.
Yes. They "control a massive number of votes". And that's what is sick about all of this. And to openly admit that the overall mission is to ease gun laws is even sicker.

And speaking of Texas, here are the latest comments of their illustrious Senator Ted Cruz concerning guns:
Cruz also bragged about slowing down new gun control efforts in the wake of the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children dead. Cruz said the Obama administration tried to use the shooting as “an excuse to go after the Constitutional rights of law-abiding senators.”
Instead he said that conservative lawmakers like himself were able to slow down the rush to pass new gun legislation, which permitted members of Congress to go home and hear from their constituents about the proposed new regulations.
“People would say, ‘How come you are not fighting for the Second Amendment?” the Texas Senator told the crowd at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. “The American people rose up in overwhelming numbers.”
Cruz made his comments in the context of urging Republicans to not compromise, pointing to his success of standing up to the administration and to the “graybeards” in his own party.
This is beyond sick. "Law abiding Senators"? We have to assume that they are all law abiding, right? A "rush to pass new gun legislation"? Hardly. Folks on my side have been working to expand gun background checks for years. But we have been stymied by the bullying tactics of the corporate gun lobby who Cruz is now apparently defending. And it might surprise Senator Cruz that the truth of the matter is there is nothing unconstitutional about regulating gun rights. Supreme Court Justice Scalia would agree with this. (See article below) It's time to tell the truth. If some Senators don't care that 20 small children were massacred and they were responsible for the nothing that happened after the heinous national tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school, then they represent the extremes amongst us who insist that their rights trump public health and safety. We are talking about the senseless loss of lives of innocent children and citizens here. Surely we are better than this.

Speaking of extremists I had a disturbing conversation at a recent event. A young man took issue with the idea of expanding background checks to all gun sales. Why? Because he himself was a prohibited purchaser due to a prior domestic abuse charge. He needed his guns, he explained, because he was trying to "live off the land". Therefore he felt he had a right to buy guns for this purpose even though he legally can't buy them. If private sales would be required to get background checks, then he couldn't buy his guns. The question remains as to whether he currently owns guns illegally. Apparently he does own guns but they are being held by a relative until he can get his rights back. At least that is a bit of common sense. But let's think about this for a minute. Is he one of those "good guys" with a gun? I'm just asking. And in parting, we had an impolite conversation about whether we should just allow shootings to occur because the blood of the victims, he explained to me, is all for his personal freedom to own a gun. After the steam stopped coming out of my ears, I explained to him that my sister's death was not about his freedom in any way. It was avoidable and preventable and there's no reason not to try to stop deaths like hers. He disagreed. People have personal choices. I guess if someone decides to shoot another human being or themselves, that's all OK with him as long as he can illegally own his guns.

Sigh.

And speaking of using the second amendment to hide what these folks are all about, check out this really cogent article from Salon about the lies told by the corporate gun lobby in order to get their way.  If you tell a lie often enough, and then bully the other side, you sometimes get your way. The author of the linked article writes this:
"This argument is set forth by gun proliferation advocates as if it has been understood this way from the beginning of the republic. Indeed, “fundamental right to bear arms” is often spat at gun regulation advocates as if they have heard it from the mouths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson themselves. But what none of them seem to acknowledge (or, more likely, know) is that this particular legal interpretation of the Second Amendment was validated by the Supreme Court all the way back in … 2008. That’s right. It was only six years ago that the Supreme Court ruled (in a 5-4 decision with the conservatives in the majority, naturally) that there was a “right to bear arms” as these people insist has been true for over two centuries. And even then it isn’t nearly as expansive as these folks like to pretend.  
For instance, that gun-grabbing hippie Justice Antonin Scalia went out of his way in that decision to say that beyond the holding of handguns in the home for self-defense, regulations of firearms remained the purview of the state and so too was conduct. He wrote that regulating the use of concealed weapons or barring the use of weapons in certain places or restricting commercial use are permitted. That’s Antonin Scalia, well known to be at the far-right end of the legal spectrum on this issue. Most judges had always had a much more limited interpretation of the amendment. (...) So, what happened? Well, the NRA happened. Or more specifically, a change in leadership in the NRA happened. After all, the NRA had long been a benign sportsman’s organization devoted to hunting and gun safety. It wasn’t until 1977, that a group of radicals led by activists from the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms took control and changed the direction of the group to one dedicated to making the Second Amendment into a “fundamental right.”
What had been a fringe ideology was then systematically mainstreamed by the NRA, a program that prompted the retired arch conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger to say that the Second Amendment:
“Has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime”"
Lives are lost because of this fraud. More than 80 a day actually, to gun injuries. I would recommend your reading this article in its' entirety. For we need the truth when so many lives are lost senselessly. If you look at the video in the linked article, you will see a young man who is promoting shotguns for home safety and most especially to single moms. Does this young man know that in homes with guns, people are more likely to use that gun in a shooting that involves themselves or a loved one than in self defense? Guns are dangerous and a risk to those who own them. But that is not what the corporate gun lobby is telling people. Profits trump public safety. That should be disturbing to us all.

In actuality, 9 children and teens a day are shot in accidental shootings and 80% of accidental shootings of kids under 15 occur in their own homes. Children know where the guns are. They find them and they use them accidentally to shoot themselves or someone else or in a suicide. That is why I am involved with the ASK campaign promoted by the Center to Prevent Youth Violence. This is the common sense approach to keeping our children safe from gun violence. Asking if there are guns where your children play or hang out could save a life and stop yet another shooting. Not one more.

Many people own guns for self defense or shooting sports. Is the young man above also telling those moms to make sure those guns are secured to prevent one more senseless shooting? With rights come responsibilities. And speaking of not one more shooting, there was a spree shooting in Norfolk, Virginia one week after the mass shooting in Isla Vista, California:
A 17-year-old on his way home from a high school graduation celebration and a police officer where among three people killed in a shooting spree in Norfolk, Va., officials said today.
James Brown, 29, is reported to have started shooting randomly Friday night as he drove through Norfolk. According to police, witnesses saw Brown shoot at 17-year-old Mark Rodriguez's car.
The teenager was on his way home at the time and was struck by at least one bullet, police said. He was declared dead at the scene.
A police officer responding to the attack was also killed after he identified Brown's vehicle near his home. Brown shot officers Brian Jones and Curtis Allison multiple times from inside his home, after they identified his car.
Senseless. Tragic.

Speaking of spree shootings, we are still waiting for Congress to stand up to the corporate gun lobby and pass laws like expanded background checks so that all guns sold get a background check. Why would this not just be common sense? Well, because the corporate gun lobby is bullying and deceiving our leaders to get their way. So we can expect Congress to back down even in the face of the majority of Americans who want them to pass laws to keep our communities safer.

And speaking of Congress not doing anything, read this piece- a "letter" from one victim to another- a Sandy Hook parent wrote to Richard Martinez, father of Chris Michaels-Martinez, shot and killed in Santa Barbara, California last week. In the words of Mark Bardon of Sandy Hook Promise:            
My story, my anguish is shared by more parents than you can imagine. Not just those who lost children and loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary, but the tens and hundreds of thousands of parents who have lost children to gun violence before and since, families across the country whose grief is no less because their tragedy didn’t make headlines. Last week in Santa Barbara, six more families joined that terrible club. I don’t personally know Richard Martinez, but when he said in an interview “you never think it can happen to you,” I hung my head and cried. (...)  
Despite my pain and grief, I have great faith we can find a way through this terrible morass with enough voices joined together: voices from the political left and the right, voices of gun owners and those who don’t own guns, millions of parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles around the country who look at their children and think, there is something I can do to protect you. We don’t risk any of our freedoms or values. We do it in the shared belief that America is a stronger country when we make common sense choices to protect our innocent children. It’s too late for my sweet little Daniel or for Christopher Michaels-Martinez, or the hundreds of thousands of children already gone, but it’s not too late to protect your children and the children that you love. Please join us.
It's not too late but it's past time to do something to protect our children and others from the violence perpetrated daily in America. It's too late for the many victims of senseless and avoidable shootings like those at Sandy Hook elementary school and Isla Vista. Join Mark Bardon, Richard Martinez and the rest of us advocating for gun safety reform and act for the safety of us all. We just can't have one more of the shootings that are so devastating to our families. We shouldn't have to have marches and vigils in memory of victims like this one in the Isla Vista community over the week-end. Not one more of these.

UPDATE:

As always, I like to include the latest Week-end Gun Report by Joe Nocera in my blog posts. Nocera is doing us all a favor, if you can call it that, by keeping track of the shooting incidents all over America. In his latest 3 day report, by my count ( which took me a fair amount of time) 93 Americans lost their lives to gun injuries and 166 survived their injuries to live on with what could be life-long disabilities and trauma related mental and physical problems. These shootings occurred in 38 of our 50 states. They were suicides, homicides, murder/suicides, kid shootings, gang shootings, home invasions and robberies, domestic disputes, drive-bys and arguments amongst friends. Some were law enforcement officers. Some were old. Some were very young. If you think this is acceptable and worth the "freedom" of the gun extremists, raise your hand. Otherwise get busy and take action.

UPDATE #2:

Since I focused some of my post on the Texas Open Carry group, my readers should be interested in the fact that not only are those extremists wrong but they are in a distinct minority of folks who don't seem to like common sense when it comes to guns. A new poll by Americans for Responsible Solutions has found that Texans like expanded background checks. From the article:
Eighty-five percent of Texas residents recently said they favor background checks on all gun sales, according to a poll released Sunday by Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Additionally, 79% of Texas Republicans and 65% of National Rifle Association members in the state said they prefer background checks, according to the poll. Seventy-nine percent of Texans also support denying convicted domestic abusers access to firearms.
“Even in states with long, proud traditions of gun ownership like Texas, talking about ways to reduce gun violence does not have to be a political liability – far from it,” Pia Carusone, senior adviser of Americans for Responsible Solutions, said in a statement. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, created the gun-violence prevention group after she was shot outside of an Arizona supermarket in 2011.
This is consistent with most other polling over many years but it's quite stunning now that the NRA and the Texas Open Carry folks are having a separation. The NRA leaders have made it clear that they don't like expanded background checks. Are they representing anyone but themselves when they say that? And the Open Carry folks have accused the NRA of lining up with gun reform groups. Which group is more out of the main stream of Texans now? Time will tell.

8 comments:

  1. When M-16s (the real, fully automatic assault weapons) are ordered for various governmental agencies, they are listed in the purchase orders as "personal defense weapons," but you say that no one needs that kind of weapon for self defense. If that's true, then Go after the post office, BLM and other agencies that use them. Also, these are not heavy weapons, in any way, shape or form.

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    1. Do you have any proof that this is true or is this just your assertion or something you got from another gun rights extremist? The rest of what you said makes absolutely no sense.

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    2. Do a little research, as I have, and you will see the firearms listed as personal defense weapons on the government purchase orders. The rest of what I said makes no sense? Like what? The BLM did not have M16s among their weapons during the Nevada rancher standoff? The pictures of the BLM armed squad were clearly shown in the press, and their weapons were plain to see. The post office doesn't use firearms? Yes, they do (think postal inspectors, big federal crime division the postal service.) Or do you take issue with AR15s and the like (real assault weapons - M16s) not being heavy weapons? Do a quick search of "heavy weapons" and educate yourself. I didn't take my mind reading pills today; so please forgive me, I'm having trouble with exactly what you meant with your vague statement. Do you just make vague statements casting doubt about a post being false because you are too lazy to verify it, even with internet, or do you just disbelieve that anyone on the side of defending the civil right of gun ownership can possibly put together a coherent and factual statement, because according to you, all that oppose gun control are all somehow "extremists? The issue is not the gun, it's the person. Look at Israel. After they implemented armed guards and administrators at schools, there were no more school shootings. In Israel, a great percentage of the population carry firearms, both open carry and concealed carry, including some who carry M16s on a daily basis (I have seen it myself). And Israel is among the top 5 lowest gun deaths per capita. If the gun is the problem, then Israel should easily beat us the number of gun deaths. Take Switzerland, where households are required to have real assault weapons, and usually keep them even after service in the army is over (fully automatic, unlike AR15s that scare people here because of how they look, even though hands, feet, and bats kill far more people than all rifles combined). Switzerland has a low gun crime rate compared to the USA. And yes, I have visited families in Switzerland and have seen the real machine guns.The difference in both cases? Demographics. They don't have a small urban group that is a small percentage the population, but commits over half the violent crime, but we do, unfortunately. If we focused on restoring the broken family unit in the inner city, then perhaps we can change the stranglehold that gangs have on these poor kids. Of course, that's more difficult than blaming a gun.
      When adjusted for these demographics, and the bangers are removed, I'd be willing to bet that the per capita gun deaths are similar to other European nations. I think that would be an interesting study; I wonder if the data from existing studies can be recut that way, or if new studies in order? I recently read a similar study between Washington state, or perhaps or was a city in Washington, that did a similar comparison with Canada. When they compared similar demographics and removed the gangs, the USA gun death rate was the same as Canada. I'll see if I can find the details of that study and I'll post a link later.

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  2. Here's what I find so odd: on one hand, AR/AK advocates say that such rifles are only cosmetically different than other semi-auto rifles and therefore no more dangerous to the public. Yet on the other hand these same folks claim that AR/AK weapons are the absolute best choice for self- and home defense.

    Which is it?

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    1. These two statements are not mutually exclusive. Compare the popular Ruger Mini-14/30 models with the AR platform. Both are semi-automatic rifles - they only shoot one bullet for every pull of the trigger. Both are available in .223 REM and .308 WIN - so ballistically it's a tie. Both have external safeties. Both are magazine fed. The only differences relevant to this discussion are the AR's different grip, adjustable stock, and larger accessory (picatinny/M1913) rails. Oh, and one is not made with wood, so its "scare factor" increases exponentially. Since they both, by design, shoot bullets - they are dangerous if handled carelessly, but one will not "kill faster" or "kill harder" than the other.

      Now, in general, the rifle is a better choice for defense. It has less recoil and, generally, shorter length than a shot gun - easier to control for follow up shots. It also has a higher probability of stopping the threat over a hand gun. Of course, there are outliers in these statements, but on the whole these are solid reasons.

      Now that we've established a rifle is usually a better choice, the AR (and to some extent, the AK) is the better rifle choice. The adjustable stock can adapt to people of all sizes. The front barrel guard can accept a number of lighting/laser/aiming devices to help identify/neutralize any threat. The barrel guard also protects hands from touching the potentially hot barrel. The AR is a fairly robust design, so depending on it "in the clutch" is usually a non-issue as well, not to say a bolt action is weak (it isn't). In addition, a semi-automatic rifle allows the defender to be ready for follow up shots quicker if needed.

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    2. Do you realize what you are saying?" The adjustable stock can adapt to people of all sizes". Also the barrel guard protects hands from touching the hot barrel? What in the world do you have in mind here? It sounds like you are ready for a mass shooting or to kill a bunch of people at a time. These kinds of guns are just not needed for self defense. You are saying all the things about assault rifles that you criticize gun reform folks for saying. You have clearly admitted here that you shouldn't use a rifle made of wood so the scare factor increases. You have also admitted that the features on assault rifles that the rest of us don't like and that make them different from average long guns used for hunting are what you want and need and that these features make the guns more dangerous and scary. And this is what the gun rights extremists are fed by the corporate gun lobby- fear and paranoia. Most home invasions happen when people are not at home. A gun is more likely to be used against you or someone in the home than in self defense. Good luck. I hope your life will not be too scary and be careful out there.

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  3. It's obvious that the current generation of assault-style rifles, most based on selective fire military versions (with lineage going back to the STG 44), do possess the right features and ammo to be a better choice for most combat or quasi-combat situations. These features aren't cosmetic, which is the essence of my point.

    As most of you are aware, the Ruger Mini-14 is based on an earlier design - basically the Garand. Even tricked out with tactical accessories like pistol grip(s) and adjustable butt stock, a selective fire version of the Mini-14 would, to some degree, lag behind the AR and AK as a combat weapon.

    The unfortunate flip side is that what makes assault-style rifles great for home defense also makes them a "good" choice for mass shooters.

    Thankfully such rifles are involved in only a very small percentage of the common day-to-day shootings and, being long guns, will never answer the needs of average criminals.

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  4. Sven,

    I just read your comment of 6/5 fully. Your last paragraphs are right on, in my view. While I do feel that our country needs universal background checks, safe gun storage and stiff penalties for gun traffickers (none of which we have currently, but those peer nations do), your analysis of peer nations and the dis-empowered, urban poor factor is quite worthy of consideration. I'd bet most social science experts would agree with you on that.

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