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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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Guns make people bolder

If this Tennessee lawyer had not had a gun in her car the other day, she would be leading her life as usual. But she did have a gun in her car and she was a concealed carry permit holder as she made perfectly clear to a young man who asked her to slow her car down in a Walmart parking lot:
"He would do anything to protect them, and such was the case Tuesday afternoon when police said a driver came speeding through the parking lot of the South Rutherford Walmart, almost hitting his 6-year-old son.
"I had my 1-year-old daughter on my neck and when I saw my son run by, I reached out and grabbed him and told her she needed to slow down," Hill said.
Those words must have struck a chord with the suspect.
"She leaned out and showed a handgun to me and said, ‘I will shoot you,'" Hill said. "I said, 'Go ahead and shoot me and if I live, I'll call the cops,' and she said, ‘I don't care, I have a gun carry permit.'"
The woman was later identified as 37-year-old Angela Scruggs, of Christiana.
Scruggs listed her occupation on an arrest report as a policy manager with the State of Tennessee. She is an attorney with General Services, according to Assistant Commissioner Kelly Smith.
"Scuggs did notify her supervisor about her arrest," Smith said. "We are monitoring the situation, and no action has been taken at this time. It happened after hours and is just an allegation that is not related to her duties at work."
"It was a pretty terrifying experience, you know, especially for telling someone to slow down," Hill said.
There are signs clearly posted for drivers to yield for pedestrians, something witnesses said the woman ignored.
"It's scary, what if she did shoot him in front of our three kids?" said Hill's fiancee, Rachel Murray.
A Walmart worker witnessed the woman pulling the gun on the victim.
Police later caught up with her on South Church Street where they arrested her for aggravated assault.
Scruggs told police, according to an incident report, that Hill came toward her aggressively with his hands in his pockets and that's why she grabbed her .22-caliber pistol.
Video from the store's surveillance camera proved that wasn't the case, according to Hill.
Police said a gun carry permit is good to have to show ownership or in the case of self-defense, but it shouldn't be abused. 
"It's never a license to unlawfully point that at someone and threaten people, especially when their life is not in danger," said Murfreesboro police spokesman Sgt. Kyle Evans."
What if the woman with a concealed carry permit holder had acted on her anger and actually shot this young father over nothing? It happens. When she felt the need to mention that she was a conceal carry permit holder, did that mean she thought she was justified or was it meant to be a threat? She said she didn't care. Really? Do people with permits believe that simply because they have legal permits to carry, anything goes? Remember in my last post, I reported about a Minnesota man who laid in wait in the yard of a teen-aged girl to shoot her when she stepped outside? He was mad that she asked him not to continue driving through her yard on his lawn mower with his openly displayed gun. That's enough, apparently, for some people to justify killing or attempting to kill another human being.

Speaking of that Minnesota case, more information is now out about the man who did the shooting. He was clearly a gun rights extremist. A photo on the internet that has gone viral shows him dressed in a pair of jeans, bare chested, with his holstered gun proudly displayed. Some screen grabs from the man's Facebook page found him calling "gun control" "retards". You can read more about that in this updated Star Tribune article.  He was clearly ready with his words anyway, to take action against people with whom he disagreed.

Clearly there are some people who shouldn't have guns. But in this country we are making it all too easy for just about anyone to get them and keep them no matter what. One could argue that this Wyoming man should not have had access to a gun. From the article:
Zimmerman told Sgt. Mark Hollenbach of the sheriff's department that Teresa was yelling at the kids.
That was when he reportedly picked up a 12-gauge shotgun and "shot her" because she was yelling.
He went on to tell Hollenbach that his wife was "menopausal."
An odor of alcohol was detected on Zimmerman's breath, and a breath test revealed him to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.186 percent, more than double the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Zimmerman was taken to the Laramie County Sheriff's Department for further questioning.
At that time, he asked for a lawyer, but told detectives, "I didn't know the gun was loaded."
A trooper with the Highway Patrol told Hollenbach that when he was transporting the three children to the sheriff's department, Zimmerman's 6-year-old grandson said he saw "Grandpa shoot Grandma."
A search of the residence uncovered a single 12-gauge shotgun, one spent shotgun shell and two unspent rounds.
A short temper and alcohol along with a gun at the ready led to a family tragedy from which these 3 children will never fully recover. The trauma of watching your grandfather shoot and kill your grandmother will stay with these children all of their lives. Here's a simple question. Why was a loaded shotgun just sitting around, easily accessible, in the house when the grandchildren were there? The gun made this man bolder in his actions. An argument about one person not liking another yelling at the grandchildren would likely not have led to a senseless death without that gun.

Common sense seems to be in short supply for some gun owners. It's crucial to have common sense when around guns. As it turns out most gun owners are responsible with their guns and use them properly for hunting and recreational shooting. But the problem for these folks is that enough incidents like the ones I provide on this blog occur that even the responsible folks get lumped in with those who aren't. And it doesn't help that the corporate gun lobby is feeding some of these folks misinformation and crazy notions that may lead to their boldness with their guns. Fortunately, most gun owners favor common sense gun laws knowing that passing laws to stop people who shouldn't have guns from getting them won't affect their own ability to own guns. Most gun owners understand that the corporate gun lobby does not speak for them. Unfortunately, our Congress and most legislators are not listening to the majority of gun owning and non gun owning Americans.

It really can't be argued that in the cases I have provided, without a gun, a grandmother would be alive today. Without a gun, a Minnesota teen would not have been sent to the hospital with gunshot injuries. Without a gun, the conceal carry permit holder would not have been so threatening to a young father who wanted her to slow her car down. Guns can turn simple disagreements and situations deadly very quickly. Without the guns, would these gun owners have been so bold? Would they have thought of killing, injuring or threatening someone over simple disagreements? And when everyone is encouraged to have a gun, things can go wrong. This is why changing the conversation about guns and gun violence is so important. Guns in homes and now more frequently in public places, are a risk to their owners and others. At the least, more training should be required for those who purchase guns and carry them around in public places. A cavalier attitude towards guns leads to irresponsible gun ownership and sometimes to deaths. When guns are seen as a way to solve arguments, get even with someone, be at the ready to shoot those who don't agree or government agents, we have a problem.

And speaking of everyone being encouraged to have a gun, I updated my last post to include the NRA's spokesperson trying to walk back what he said about the lunatic notion that all children should be mandated to have gun training in school. This is what I mean when I say that when you encourage the idea that everyone should have a gun without recognizing that everyone shouldn't have a gun, people will continue to be shot. Small children should not be considered to be mature enough to understand the risks and the responsibilities that come with loaded guns. There are enough accidental shootings of and by children for us to know that to be true. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill another human being. And kill they do at a rate higher than any other democratized country not at war. As long as we have more guns than any other country not at war we need to decide what we will do to make sure Americans are not being shot by them. It's time for a change. Let's get to work.

UPDATE:

Does anyone think that Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of American, means what he says when he talks about a threat to a sitting U.S. Congresswoman? Does being the director of the nation's most conservative gun rights organization make him bolder? Because he must own a few guns. But I digress. From the article:
Prominent gun lobbyist Larry Pratt is doubling down on his insistence that members of Congress should have a “healthy fear” of being shot, lecturing a congresswoman who felt threatened by one of his group’s members that she just doesn’t understand the Constitution.
Right Wing Watch first reported Pratt’s comments in a March interview with radio host Bill Cunningham. Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, told Cunningham that a member of his group had spoken to a congresswoman who told him, “you want to shoot me, don’t you.”
“Well, that’s probably a healthy fear for them to have,” Pratt said. “You know, I’m kind of glad that’s in the back of their minds. Hopefully they’ll behave.”
What else could this mean? We understand what the comment from the Minnesota shooter meant. And he acted on his words. ( see above) I wrote in an earlier post about the incendiary rhetoric issued by Pratt. Is this the kind of country we want? More, though, from the linked article above:
Then, this week, Pratt doubled down, issuing an open letter to Maloney, a New York Democrat, claiming that she does not understand the Constitution and telling her once again that she “should do her job in constant trepidation” that she will be shot: “Should you attempt to disarm Americans the way the British crown tried 240 years ago, the same sovereign people who constituted this government using the cartridge box someday may need to reconstitute it, as clearly anticipated by the Declaration of Independence.” 
Right. Good stuff. Pratt should keep his mouth shut, don't you think?

1 comment:

  1. the gun does the thinking. When you have the gun, you reason with the gun. It makes it easier to do something stupid. Plus it pushes you into a self-justification loop of paranoia. "I have the gun" "because it is dangerous" "I must keep the gun" "You never can tell"

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