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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What can possibly go wrong??? Part 2

I wrote a recent post about all of the things that can go wrong with guns and gun extremists. Of course, what I wrote were only a few examples. Here are some more, but just for this post. Others will surely come. Let's start small. Someone left a loaded gun on top of the toilet paper dispenser at a South Carolina Walmart. What could possibly go wrong? We now have conceal carry gun permit holders leaving loaded guns around in the places they frequent. The first question is why must people carry guns around wherever they go? They are obviously inconvenient when trying on clothes, going to the bathroom, sitting down to eat, packing for trips, while sitting in cars, and all of the other stupid and dangerous incidents I write about. These are not isolated incidents. Thanks to the corporate gun lobby for helping to write public policy law that allows for almost anyone to have guns in public. And no thanks to our elected leaders who chose to pass these stupid and dangerous laws. That is why we are seeing so many things going wrong with loaded guns in public. We can change that if we have the will.

And along the lines of what could possibly go wrong, let's talk about the injection of religion into the gun rights discussion. I write sometimes on this blog about something that strikes me during a church service. My church as been very supportive of me ever since my sister was murdered. Most people, if not all, who attend my church support common sense gun laws and safe communities. Isn't that what religion is all about? Non-violence and peaceful solutions to problems? At my church we have made it a priority to support reasonable gun laws that will keep people from being shot. Makes sense, right? At least that is what I have always been taught in church. Most main stream faith organizations support preventing gun violence. We shouldn't be surprised that there is a religious factor in the gun rights movement and one big example is Larry Pratt, Director of Gun Owners of American. What could possibly go wrong when using religious fervor to promote the use of guns? Here is just one short clip from the Rolling Stone article:
Because what he really thinks resonates deeply with the theocratic tenets of Christian Reconstructionism, which holds that American government should be ordered according to events and dictates found in the Old and New Testaments. Nor is Pratt so stupid as to use his regular access to mainstream media to promote the "active measures" he believes American gun owners will one day be forced to unleash on a secular federal government. As he explained in his 1999 essay, "What does the Bible Say About Gun Control?" Pratt writes, "If Christ is not our King, we shall have a dictator to rule over us, just as Samuel warned."
This is a long, comprehensive article about a man whose world view and radical right wing political beliefs have colored public gun policy in America. It's worth the read to find our more about who this man is and what he is really all about. It's clearly not just about guns and gun rights. If you look carefully at the above warning from Pratt, it appears that he is encouraging Christians to a violent confrontation with the "secular federal government." Is this what some of the gun extremists want for America? It's a question that deserves an answer. What could possibly go wrong?

The Texas Open Carry folks are bulldogs. They just keep coming back and back and back no matter how many times they have been turned away and embarrassed. Apparently they have no sense of proportion and certainly no common sense. The group has decided to re-schedule it's armed "walk" through a predominantly black neighborhood in Houston. What could possibly go wrong? From the article:
Open Carry Texas also announced that they’ll have a real-life black person marching with them, Maurice Muhammad. As Liberaland pointed out, Muhammad is a radical who promotes the killing of police officers on his Facebook page. He also is apparently the leader of a group that openly wishes for a race war. Liberaland also pointed out that OCT’s blog entry is more about Grisham’s own issues with the law than his concerns about the black community. While he talks a big game about unfair laws regarding gun ownership, and he positions himself as some kind of civil rights fighter, the reality is that he himself has a conviction on his record and cannot apply for a conceal-carry license. Which is likely the reason he started this group in the first place.
Anyway, these gun nuts plan on marching through the Fifth Ward on August 16th. Once again, like they claimed last time, this is only supposed to be a peaceful demonstration as well as a charitable action. They just want to educate the residents of the area. They positively, absolutely do not want anything unseemly or ugly to occur. Nuh-uh. No way. And this time, no one can claim it is all just a bunch of white guys marching through a black neighborhood carrying a bunch of guns. Because they got a black guy with them. It is totally cool now.
Charitable? Nope. Cool? Nope. Peaceful? Nope. There is nothing peaceful about a bunch of armed gun nuts walking around with assault rifles on their backs. And in addition, they have a felon who wants a race war walking through a black neighborhood with armed zealots and gun nuts. Sounds like a good plan, right?

And what could possibly go wrong when anti-immigration folks march with guns in the streets of Detroit to protest the possibility of some of the recent child immigrants being housed close by? This is downright ugly. From the article:
Conservative groups protested the possible housing of Central American children in Vassar, Michigan, on Monday by marching through town, some with AR-15 rifles and handguns, according to The Detroit News.
About 50 protesters led by the group Michiganders for Immigration Control and Enforcement carried American and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags as they marched from city hall to a social services facility that may house the children. The protest follows a similar but larger gathering that took place last week.
Really? The Gadsden flag again? Why? What message is this sending? Are these children invading our country? What in the world is so threatening anyway? These are mostly kids and women. It's embarrassing and racist, for just a few descriptive words. Pope Francis has it right in this statement about what is going on in America. From the article:
"This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected. These measures, however, will not be sufficient, unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin."
And he went on to call it like it is -from this article: 
"Many people obligated to migrate suffer and frequently die tragically," Pope Francis said in his missive. "Many of their rights are violated, they are forced to leave their families and unfortunately continue being the object of racist and xenophobic attitudes."
I am not Catholic but I love Pope Francis. He is man who speaks truth to power. Thank God for other Catholics in America who, unlike some hateful Americans, are offering help and support to the immigrants. I have great respect for those who step forward and do what's right in the face of ugly resistance. Faith communities, at least most of them anyway, are all about peace, love, redemption, forgiveness and providing for the poor and unfortunate amongst us. From the article ( obviously a Christian perspective):
Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, spoke before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in late June. He called the number of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border “a test of the moral character” of our nation. “We must not fail this test,” he said.
Right now, the welcoming community of Brownsville and surrounding communities are acing the test. In Murrieta, the mayor and the citizens who drove back the buses need to study more. President Obama looks for ways to return the children to their perilous homeland. The U.S. Congress sits on its hands. To prepare for the test of moral character, protesters in Murrieta, the president and the Congress, might hit the books, especially the New Testament. A place to start is Matthew 25, where Jesus states: “Whatever you do for these, the least of my brethren, you do also for me.” 
This is a tragic situation. Some Americans are trying to bully and intimidate these innocent folks. Their "xenophobic" and intimidating attitudes are almost frightening in their fervor. The illegal children and families who are sitting at our border deserve to be treated like human beings and get a fair hearing to hear their stories and who should or should not be allowed to stay here, at least temporarily. It is usually the U.S. that is calling out other countries during humanitarian crises. This time, the spotlight is on us and it's not a pretty picture. This is a complicated issue that calls for adults to put their heads together to work on solutions. What is not helping is the image of guys with AR-15s strapped around their backs seemingly ready to do harm to innocent children and their families. We don't need armed and fearful citizens interfering with a sensible solution to this awful crisis.

And further, the ramped up paranoia and fervor is causing these folks to foam at the mouth over the possibility of stopping a school bus full of kids to bully them. Some Arizona anti-immigration folks made a mistake and almost went after a bus full of American children going to a YMCA camp. Really? Chill out. They looked so hateful, mean and vengeful in the video I saw on a news program. Who are these people? Unless you are Native American, your relatives were immigrants to this country at one point. Three of 4 of my grandparents came from Norway and Sweden and my great grandparents on my mother's side also immigrated from Norway. I don't think they were met at the borders by people with guns and hatred though immigrants have never had it easy in America or any other country for that matter. We have a history of intolerance towards some immigrants going back many years. Hopefully we will learn from our mistakes and at the least, be patient, tolerant and with no violence towards people who are looking for a place of refuge from the intolerance and violence in their own countries.

And it isn't just immigrant children that cause gun extremists to foam at the mouth and try to bully others. The League of Women Voters are apparently considered to be dangerous to the sovereignty of the country as well. As a long time member of the League of Women Voters which supports common sense gun legislation, I find this incident at the Seattle League of Women Voters office to be offensive and downright nuts: 
An anonymous individual (or individuals) left a target riddled with bullet holes on the doorstep of the Seattle-King County League of Women Voters' Capitol Hill office over the recent holiday weekend—a message, the LWV believes, about the state chapter's support for I-594, which would require background checks for gun sales online and at gun shows. A volunteer for the group found the target over the weekend. 
Really? Just because a group supports background checks for all gun sales, you have to try to intimidate them? This is just plain stupid but potentially dangerous. What could possibly go wrong when a group of gun zealots does something like this? Let's hope nothing but the fact that they did it says all we need to know about them. The intimidation and paranoia is ramping up with every inch closer the country gets to passing reasonable gun laws that will save lives. Is saving lives so fearful? What in the world are these people so frosted about? What makes a group like this tick anyway? In what world are they living? This is just plain crazy.

It's time for a change. Surely we are better than this. This is not the America we want or deserve.

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