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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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The monster amongst us

There's been another school shooting on the heels of the 3rd mass shooting in 2 weeks. This one came to us from a high school in Oregon. 2 dead. 1 injured. From the article:
""You don't think something's going to happen like that -- especially to your school. It's kind of, like, crazy," she said."
Don't ever think this can't happen where you live. Proof is in the fact that it has and it does. More:
"The shooting, the latest in a long string of school shootings, sparked reaction nationwide.
"Our hearts go out to the Reynolds HS community. How many more students must we lose before committing to reduce gun violence in our schools?" Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asked on his Twitter account.
Speaking in Washington, President Barack Obama said the nation should be ashamed of its inability to get tougher gun restrictions through Congress in the aftermath of mass shootings that he said have become commonplace in America.
"Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There's no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this," he said in response to a question about gun violence.
Most members of Congress are "terrified" of the National Rifle Association, the President said, adding that nothing will change until public opinion demands it."
Terrified? Members of Congress should be terrified that the next shooting could be one of their own family members. We should all be terrified of this national public health and safety epidemic. If it was a communicable disease, we would be all over it and demanding action. But because it's about guns, not so much. Why? Simple. The corporate gun lobby.

Senseless.

Is this enough now? Have we reached a tipping point? We certainly thought so after the Sandy Hook shooting. But we were wrong. Our leaders failed us. They let the corporate gun lobby decide on gun policy in America. The result? The 74th school shooting since Sandy Hook. I say shame on them all. We just have to be better than this. If feels different this time. Guns openly carried all over the country by extremists who think they have something to prove. Anti government extremists shooting police officers and others because they got convinced that their guns gave them the power and authority to start a revolution. College campus shootings by young men who have mental illness and choose to take it out on people they don't know but believe shooting them will exact revenge.

I'm sure I don't have to go on. You know what I'm talking about. Only in America is this even possible. That is not a positive thing. More from what President Obama said yesterday:
"The country has to do some soul searching about this," Obama said. "This is becoming the norm and we take it for granted in ways that as a parent are terrifying to me." (...)  He said the core of the issue is not mental health, but ready access to guns and large caches of ammunition. He said Washington should be "ashamed" of its inability to pass gun control legislation.
Soul searching is putting it mildly. It's the politicians who need to search deep into their souls and realize that they are complicit in the daily carnage by their inaction. The public is there. But sometimes the public doesn't know what to do about all of this. It feels helpless. It shouldn't. There are many things to be done. First and foremost is to contact your Representative and Senator and tell them to Finish The Job on background checks. Why? Let's take a look.

The male shooter in the Las Vegas massacre was a felon. Legally he couldn't buy guns from a Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer. But he could easily get them from a private seller at a gun show or on the Internet. And, indeed, he tried to get a gun through Facebook. Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign, commented in the linked article about Facebook's policies regarding gun sales. Why doesn't Facebook stop allowing any sales of guns? You can contact Facebook by signing this Brady Campaign petition and tell them you want them to stop allowing private gun sales. This can clearly stop some of our daily shootings.

Let's talk about the anti-government stuff coming from the far right. This is a monster of their own creation. Cliff Schecter wrote about this for Daily Beast. From the linked post:
The NRA’s officials purposefully pipeline propaganda to the most loony-tunes among us. They’ve told these gun cultists that they had best arm themselves with as many weapons and as lethal weaponry as they can get their hands on, because either a black president or a black helicopter will be hunting them down shortly. Simultaneously, they’ve used every electoral and lobbying tactic to best enable these unstable individuals to have access to the weaponry of war from which they and their arms-dealer cronies so handsomely profit.
The result: They’ve watched impotently as this witch’s brew of mental illness, far-right politics, propaganda, and heavy weaponry has led to one shocking—yet wholly predictable—massacre after another, with the most recent targets including the execution-style murders of two lunching police officers in Las Vegas. These very same factors have also provided the impetus for a group of lunkheads to share their passion for taking AK-47s to lunch—even though the rest of us have no interest in sharing their emotionally degraded worldview.
It’s quite a con. And it’s killing us. 
And more from the article by Schecter:
This is a disease, one that the NRA’s leadership is helping to spread. In fact, in Las Vegas almost exactly a year ago, two “sovereign citizens” were arrested for planning to kidnap and murder cops.
(You know it’s getting ridiculous when I Google these events for exact details, with terms like “cops shot” and “sovereign citizens” and “Las Vegas” and I get more than one result.) Somehow this, and the fact that 39 percent fewer police officers are killed with handguns in states with background checks, didn’t persuade NRA toady Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada to sign universal-background-check legislation the Nevada legislature passed.
So how does this pertain to the NRA? I don’t know—could it be Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s referring to law-enforcement officials trying to do their jobs as “jack-booted thugs?” Could it be that LaPierre says things like this:
We know that sooner or later reckless government actions and policies have consequences, that when government corrupts the truth and breaks faith with the American people, the entire fabric of society, everything we believe in and count on, is then in jeopardy. 
The thing is, some people actually believe these lies. I wrote about the lies of the corporate gun lobby in my last post which have led to anti-government extremists with guns acting out their fears and paranoia, fomented by folks like Wayne LaPierre. And one of the biggest lies has been exposed again in this latest massacre. That would be that a gun permit holder can protect him/herself with a gun in this situation. Or they could save the day. The only problem with this is, it isn't true. At this latest shooting, the third armed victim was a legal gun permit holder who brought out his gun and then got shot to death himself.

Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence wrote another great piece. His focused on the relationship between the Las Vegas shooters and other insurrectionist type movements involving armed citizens. From his Huffington Post blog:
By staring down the U.S. government at gunpoint and "winning," Bundy is inspiring those of weak mind like Jerad Miller to seek a little "glory" of their own. It's long past time to hold Bundy and his gang accountable for their actions and send a clear message to the insurrectionists. The BLM should enforce the court orders that authorize it to remove Bundy's trespassing cattle from public lands, which belong to all Americans. Likewise, the FBI should conclude its investigations into alleged death threats, intimidation and possible weapons violations committed by Bundy's followers and arrest the appropriate parties. We must also collect and assess intelligence to disrupt lone wolves and insurrectionist cells before they can take violent action. I'm encouraged to see that Attorney General Eric Holder has reestablished the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee to combat "escalating danger" from homegrown terrorists (an initiative that Jerad Miller criticized on his Facebook page just days before his rampage).
And let us cease referring to Bundy's and his ilk as "militia." They are not militia in any sense, and would have been regarded as nothing more than a mob by our Founders who ratified the Second Amendment in 1791. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution makes it clear that the role of the militia is to "execute the Laws of the Union" and "suppress Insurrections." The fact that we refer to modern-day insurrectionists as "militia" just shows how divorced we are from an era in which the right to keep and bear arms demanded accountability and service to government. It also shows how totally the National Rifle Association has perverted our national debate on the Second Amendment.
The idea that armed citizens are finding it so easy to get as many guns as they want to fight against their own government is frightening. But we make it all very possible with our lax gun policies. We can do something about this if we decide we have finally had enough. Or really, it's our leaders who can do something. They must have had enough but they are not courageous enough to do what they know is right. For you can't watch what is happening in America without knowing that something is very wrong. Common sense informs us that too many shootings are devastating our families and communities. We have to be "all in" to make the changes we want and deserve. Everyone needs to be involved. Gun owners, parents, grandparents, survivors, teachers, faith communities, business people, politicians- everyone.

And speaking of everyone being involved,  this article from Lt. Colonel Robert Bateman, who I have quoted before on my blog, saying he is going to come home from Afghanistan to challenge the right wing gun rights extremists is a passionate plea:
I have been overseas in Afghanistan and in NATO nations for half a decade while the insanity of the National Rifle Association expanded and exploded, and the NRA became, essentially, the tool of death in the United States. They made mass killings normal.
Well done, NRA. But this shit is too much.
Constant cop-killing, by people who echo the NRA talking points and the conspiracy theories of the Internet wackos.
So I will come home, and perhaps some of those 3,000 nutjobs who sent me hatemail might want to meet up, because I am more than fricking willing, you whining, little boy-toys who need guns. So many of you have threatened me that I am literally booked, but any of you who feel you have been left out, go ahead. Book a date. You bring your gun to try and convince me that you are not a complete and total idiot, and if you bring a gun, let us see which tool works best.
Let's all decide to do just one thing. Join an organization working on gun safety reform. Sign a petition. Call your Congress member. Go to a rally. ASK if there is a gun where your kids hang out. Share an article on Facebook and ask your friends to share it so we can all be informed. This leads to action. If you hear insurrectionist talk like the neighbors of the Las Vegas shooter did, maybe it's time to report this out of a sense of caution. These folks believe in their own rhetoric and they have guns. You could prevent a shooting. We can all act. Isn't it past time? I think so. Let's get to work.

UPDATE:

Well just maybe Congress has reached the point of action on gun violence prevention. Senator Reid is signaling that the Senate might take up the background check bill again. From the article:
In the wake of the killing of two police officers in Nevada in a shooting that ultimately left five people dead including the shooters, Reid made the case that since the Senate’s bipartisan background check legislation died last spring, there’s been little slowdown in the number of high-profile instances of gun violence.
“Very few days go by that we don’t have these killings. The man in Las Vegas — clearly from what I’ve been able to read — was a felon. He couldn’t have bought a gun if he had background checks,” Reid told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
Good news indeed. Senator Reid has common sense in light of the horrendous shooting in his own state.

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