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.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Who owns guns in America and other facts about guns and gun owners

This post has been edited since it was first posted.

I love it that so many organizations are now doing research on guns and gun violence. For many decades the corporate gun lobby has managed to keep Congress from adequately funding the CDC and other federal organizations from doing research on gun violence. Sad, but true. Why is this? Research and facts may not come down on the side of the mantra that more guns make us safer and looser gun laws result in fewer shootings. Several new pieces of research lend important information to the debate about who owns guns and who dies from gun violence. The first is a Pew Research study about who owns guns in America. From the study:
"The new research also suggests a paradox: While blacks are significantly more likely than whites to be gun homicide victims, blacks are only about half as likely as whites to have a firearm in their home (41% vs. 19%). Hispanics are less likely than blacks to be gun homicide victims and half as likely as whites to have a gun at home (20%).
To examine the demographic and political characteristics of gun-owners and their households, we examined data from the new Pew Research Center American Trends Panel survey of 3,243 adults conducted April 29-May 27, including 1,196 who said they or someone in their household owned a gun, pistol or rifle. (...) 
But regional differences emerge when race is factored into the analysis. White southerners are significantly more likely to have a gun at home (47%) than whites in other regions. But because blacks disproportionately live in the South and are only half as likely to have a gun at home as whites, the overall rate for the southern region falls to 38%.
Other longstanding beliefs about the makeup of America’s gun-owning households are confirmed by these data. For example, rural residents and older adults are disproportionately more likely than other Americans to have a gun at home.
Americans with a gun at home also differ politically from other adults. Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to be members of a gun-owning household. Political independents also are more likely than Democrats to have a firearm in their homes.
As a group, Americans who have a gun at home see themselves differently than do other adults. According to the survey, adults in gun-owning households are more likely to think of themselves as an “outdoor person” (68% vs. 51%) or “a typical American” (72% vs. 62%), and to say “honor and duty are my core values” (59% vs. 48%).  
About six-in-ten gun household members (64%) say they “often feel proud to be American.” In contrast, about half (51%) of other adults say this."
I'm sure that most gun owners are "typical Americans." That's because in America more people own guns than in any other democratized country not at war. The inconvenient truth is that most of these folks also support common sense gun laws, as it turns out. And I love the idea that these gun owners think of themselves as "proud to be American" and "honor and duty are my core values." I'm sure most Americans, gun owning or not, feel this way as well but may not profess it in this way. And yes, this is about values. Where are our values when we shrug our shoulders at the more than 30,000 gun deaths per year in America?

A Violence Policy Center study shows that in some states gun deaths will or are already surpassing automobile deaths. Why is this important? Because the gun rights extremists love to compare gun deaths to automobile deaths and claim that since death by car accident surpassed death by guns, we shouldn't do anything about gun deaths. Makes common sense, right? But if the facts show that this is not true, where is the gun lobby's argument?

This New York Times editorial points out why this study is so important:
In fact, guns remain the only consumer product not regulated at the federal level for health and safety, in keeping with the wishes of the gun industry and compliant lawmakers.
“Teddy bears get tested to make sure they can withstand use and abuse by kids, but guns don’t get tested to make sure they don’t go off when accidentally dropped,” notes Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center.
Release of this data in previous years has drawn criticism from opponents of gun safety regulation that the calculation of gun deaths included gun suicides in addition to homicides and fatal unintentional shootings.
Yet, as Ms. Rand points out, there is overwhelming evidence linking firearm accessibility to suicide, and showing that people who attempt suicide with a firearm are much more likely to succeed at killing themselves.  Since most people who attempt suicide and fail don’t try again, the means used on the first try is rather critical.
Facts matter. But when  the corporate gun lobby writes gun policy in our country, we don't have access to the facts and important research. We are not safer as a result. Obviously gun owners in these states are shooting their fellow citizens in large numbers. Shouldn't we be doing as much about that as we do about regulations of cars for safety and car owners to make sure they have licenses to drive and drivers' training to operate cars? I'm just asking....

So what are people who own guns doing with them these days? If you read this blog, you know that I post about numerous incidents involving guns and gun violence in almost every post. There are more of them here.

Let's start in Indiana where this stupid and dangerous incident involving a "law abiding gun owner" and a neighbor turned into a shooting:
The woman who was shot, 52-year-old Tricia Wagner, told FOX59 Proctor was her neighbor of 15 years. She says he came at her with a gun while she was checking the mail.
“I went to the ground and he came over me to shoot me again and I said don’t do this…think about what you’re doing. You don’t want to do this and he turned and walked away,” says Wagner.
She was able to run and the house and get her husband. She says she was shot in the backside and the bullet came out near her groin area. She was back home just hours after the ordeal.
She says even on one of the scariest days of her life she has forgiveness in her heart and has no idea why he shot her.
“He’s had problems emotionally and in his marriage and I had some communication with his wife and I don’t know if he was upset about that. I don’t know why he shot me, why he took it out on me. “​
The man shot and killed himself when he went back home. Obviously he was in some distress. A gun in this situation is a very bad idea. Often those who commit suicide by gun take someone else with them- or they try. Murder/suicides are fairly common in domestic disputes but this man aimed his anger at a totally innocent neighbor who was very lucky it didn't end differently for her. Some folks who own guns should not have access to them when they are having emotional and marriage problems. It just makes common sense for family members and friends to discuss the risk of guns in a home where these things are happening. But this is a kind of gun culture only found in America where people are encouraged to own guns for self protection and hunting. Far too often, those guns are used against the owner him or herself or someone that gun owner knows and loves.

And while we are on the subject of "law abiding" gun owners, I am adding this recent incident of a Texas gun permit holder who shot himself accidentally. From the article:
Around 4:18 p.m., July 18, Chief Jim Vanover said the man, Jason Paul Bryant, 37, a concealed handgun licensee, entered the convenience store, pulled his shorts up, and accidentally shot himself in the leg.
“He walked maybe six feet in the door when he pulled his shorts up, something caught the trigger and the gun discharged into his leg,” Vanover said. “People immediately rushed over to help.”
This is not an isolated incident, by the way. Is this a "typical American"? I'm just asking. The Ohh Shoot blog keeps track of these things. Good thing for this guy that no one else got hurt. We are not safer because of more guns in public places but this is what we got when our state legislators let the corporate gun lobby write gun policy.

And then there are the gun owners in Florida where the Stand Your Ground law is in the spotlight again. A lot of people carry guns around with them in public places. So when an incident or an argument happens, it's easy to pull out a gun and "solve" it by shooting someone. Thus is the case in the Florida theater "popcorn shooting" incident. The shooter is now free on bail. He killed a young man in a movie theater over an argument about texting and a thrown bag of popcorn. He claimed he felt threatened when the young man threw a bag of popcorn at him. I don't know about you, but I don't think of popcorn as a dangerous weapon or something threatening when thrown. Some gun owners should not have guns with them wherever they go. But this is what happens when the corporate gun lobby writes our gun policy. We are not safer as a result.

What about road rage incidents and guns? They happen. Some gun owners carry loaded guns around with them in their cars. They shouldn't, but our lax gun laws allow them to do so anyway. This recent one in Florida involved an 83 year old "law abiding" gun owner who got angry over being cut off in traffic. What happens when you get angry in traffic? Is your first thought to get out your gun and shoot the perceived offender? Scary stuff everyone. This is what happens when the corporate gun lobby writes gun policy in our country. We are not safer as a result.

Marissa Alexander, also of Florida, was denied a new trial based on a new Florida law that will allow people to fire warning shots if they feel threatened. I guess that is just to give someone a fighting chance to defend themselves? Or does it announce the intentions of the shooter when that shooter "feels threatened" by someone? At any rate, Alexander has served time in prison for firing a warning shot in a domestic abuse case. She's black. The popcorn shooter is white. I'm just saying.......

This is what happens when the corporate gun lobby writes gun policy in America. We are not safer as a result.

When people choose to own guns, they are putting themselves and others at risk. Until gun owners understand that very basic fact, we will continue to see incidents like the above. Common sense tells us that we are not safer as a result of the corporate gun lobby's influence on public gun policy.


As always, it didn't take long before another incident of "law abiding gun owners" taking risks and endangering lives with their guns occurred. This one is another road rage incident, this time in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area:
The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office confirms a gun battle that started around noon ended on I-43 near Good Hope Rd.
The sheriff's office says it's unclear who began shooting at who, but witnesses say both car were shooting at each other.
We're told none of the shots fired actually injured anyone. All three people in the vehicle that ended up in a ditch have been arrested. Several agencies are searching for a possible fourth individual who possess the gun used in this shooting. Investigators have yet to recover a weapon.
The idea that armed battles are occurring on our freeways is frightening and extremely dangerous. A "gun battle"? Where are we living anyway? Are we at war? More guns have not made us safer.


  1. How do we know from the article that they were "law abiding gun owners"?

    1. If you read the articles you must have noticed that it was stated that some of them were conceal/carry gun permit holders. The "popcorn" shooter was a legal gun carrier. The articles have not mentioned that the shooters were felons. These incidents among "law abiding" gun owners happen regularly in America.

    2. And the "incidents" among the law breaking illegal-firearm owner is even greater.

    3. Do you have proof of that? If so, please let me know.

    4. As it turns out MrApple, most gun deaths are suicides. I would imagine that most of the guns and the owners of them who either commit suicide themselves or make a gun accessible to someone who does, are law abiding gun owners. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/05/24/suicides-account-for-most-gun-deaths/ As it turns out, most mass shootings are committee with legally owned guns- http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map Domestic shootings are most often committed by otherwise law abiding gun owners. There are loopholes in our laws that do not make it illegal for certain domestic abusers from getting guns, thereby making them law abiding or legal gun owners because we have not make them illegal. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/11/houston-shooting-domestic-violence_n_5578430.html
      My brother-in-law was a "law abiding" gun owner when he killed my sister, for example and I know many many others where this is the case. Accidental shootings of children are often committed with guns left accessible by their law abiding parents.

  2. japete writes: "Do you have proof of that? If so, please let me know."

    Yes, the data is quite clearly outlined in the various state level reports published by government public safety agencies of the activities of permit holders - and then comparing that to other government data from the same year showing criminal actions by the general population.

    Permit holders, by a factor of nearly 10x, are far more law abiding than the general population.

    1. Bryan- we have gone around about this before. I am not just talking about conceal carry permit holders in this post but several incidents involved them. What else can you say? They aren't supposed to be shooting people. Without those guns on them, they wouldn't be shooting themselves or others.

  3. japete writes: "More guns have not made us safer."

    How do you reconcile this with a 50% drop in violent crime - including crime involving firearms - over the last two decades?

    1. And we've gone around about this before too, Bryan. What's your point? I am talking about gun deaths on this blog and in my work. I am not working on overall crime, as you know. And if it's gone down, great. But for the last decade or so, the number of people who die from gunshot injuries has remained at plus or minus 30,000. That's too many. In addition, another 70,000 or so are injured by bullets yearly. That's too many. Wouldn't you agree? Or are you willing to accept this number? The number of gun homicides has gone down. That's all good. The number of suicides by gun has risen. Accidental deaths have remained about the same for some years. If this many people died by any other means, we would be on it and doing something about it. That is why I am doing the work I'm doing. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/report-sharp-drop-in-gun-violence-but-most-killings-still-involve-firearms/2013/05/07/28f96904-b694-11e2-92f3-f291801936b8_story.html
      From this article- " Gun violence dropped dramatically nationwide over the past two decades, but nearly three-quarters of all homicides are still committed with a firearm, the Justice Department said in a report released Tuesday.

      The report, by the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, painted an encouraging picture of long-term trends at a time of divisive political debate over guns and legislation to regulate them. Firearms-related homicides declined 39 percent between 1993 and 2011, the report said, while nonfatal firearms crimes fell 69 percent during that period.

      Yet the document also made clear that when people are killed, it is still most likely to be with a gun. In 2011, as in the past two decades, about 70 percent of all homicides were committed with a firearm, and the majority of those firearms were handguns."
      If this is acceptable to you, so be it. It's not to me. Looks like crimes with firearms did not drop as much as overall crime rates, by the way,