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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Friday, August 8, 2014

Believe it or not

The photo on the left was from the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I wrote about my recent travels to that area in two previous posts. My grandchildren and I walked into the lobby and saw this figure of some sort of cowboy. I don't know what he had to do with believing or not. But there are a lot of things in the museum that defy belief. And there are a lot of things occurring in real life that are hard to believe as well.

Believe it or not, a woman was accidentally shot in the arm when her husband reached for her cell phone which was hidden in her bra. The problem was, so was her gun. The gun went off accidentally. You just can't make this stuff up. Every day, I see articles like this. And yet, the corporate gun lobby and its' minions claim that guns make us all safer. This couple was charged and they were darned lucky that their carelessness didn't end more tragically.

Believe it or not, the NRA thinks blind people should be able to purchase and carry guns. Really. I'm not making this up. I mean, why not? I guess sight isn't necessary when shooting a gun. The bullets can go anywhere but hey, why not?

Believe it or not, someone has written a children's guide book to parents open carrying guns. It's called "My Parents Open Carry". Some people don't think this is a very good idea. Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert had this to say about it on his recent show:
“What a beautiful story,” he said. “The world is full of maniacs who want to hurt you and the police can’t help — goodnight honey! Let me just open the window so you can get a breeze.”
“Folks,” Colbert continued, “I know kids are going to spend hours reading this book, because it’s full of thousands and thousands words.” He then read a paragaph-long description of what Brenna’s mother and father were wearing.
“Now, that might seem like a lot of description for a children’s book,” he said, “but remember — a detailed description is required for the police report.”
“My Parents Open Carry is long overdue,” Colbert concluded. “I wish there were more firearms in children’s books.” He then provided examples of two classic children’s books that could be improved with the addition of firearms:
You can look at the photos of the books but he makes up titles like: "Good Night Forever Moon" and "Where the Wild Things Were." If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny. It's pretty unbelievable that 2 open carry advocates would write a book like this for children. It makes no common sense. Small children and guns just do not go together. I write about that very often on this blog. I wrote about another accidental shooting involving a gun and a child in my latest blog post in fact.

It's such a good idea to carry guns ( check out the article above about the bra incident) that everyone should do it. What could possibly go wrong? My readers know how often I refer to the Ohh Shoot blog where "accidental" incidents with guns are collected. Check it out for yourself if you think all gun owners are law abiding and careful. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill another human being.

Remember Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who had a stand-off with federal officials? Believe it or not, this is his excuse for his behavior:
He felt inspired by God to challenge the Bureau of Land Management agents over what he saw as an unconstitutional intrusion. But that was just a small fraction of the message he said was divinely delivered to him.
"I have no idea what God wants done, but he did inspire me to have the sheriffs across the United States take away these weapons, disarm these bureaucracies, and he also gave me a little inspiration on what would happen if they didn’t do that," Bundy said Wednesday in an appearance on KUER’s "RadioWest." "It was indicated that ‘this is our chance, America, to straighten this problem up. If we don’t solve this problem this way, we will face these same guns in a civil war.’ "
Right then. Moving right along.....Remember how stupid those folks looked who supported his actions and actually went to his ranch to help him out? Remember the Nevada shooters who shot several officers, a bystander with a concealed gun and then themselves? They had been at the Bundy Ranch making anti-government statements as if they were right and the government was wrong. The Bundy case has showcased a group of anti-government gun extremists who are ready to use their guns against government agents. They are a dangerous group. And now, believe it or not, Cliven Bundy's son was arrested on parole violations, for just one of the charges. You just can't make this stuff up. These fine upstanding citizens represent a group of folks who stock pile guns in anticipation of some sort of insurrection.

Speaking of "fine upstanding" gun extremists, NRA Board member Ted Nugent is at it again. Believe it or not, he continues his racist rhetoric towards Native Americans in spite of the cancellation of some of his shows. Apparently he isn't learning that his stupid and dangerous rhetoric is actually hurting him. From the article:
On August 7, Nugent took to his Facebook page to hype his "Rib-Off" appearance, but also to argue that American Indians upset about land being taken from them by white settlers need to learn about the American Dream.
Nugent wrote, "WE ARE ON OUR JET NOW HEADING FOR TOLEDO RIBFEST JAM AFTER AN INSANE INCREDIBLE OUT OF BODY ULTRAROCKOUT at the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis SD! Simply astonishing gig! 4 stinkyass unclean dipshit protestors that admitted they hate me AND ALL WHITE PEOPLE THAT STOLE THEIR LAND BULLSHIT!! See, it aint me they hate, they hate all Americans that produce & live the American Dream. Simply insane!"
The protestors that Nugent attacked as "stinkyass unclean dipshit[s]" were reportedly from the United Urban Warrior Society in Rapid City, SD.
The offensive language is his, not mine. Raise your hand if you think it's a good idea for the NRA to allow this man to serve on their board.

And finally, believe it or not, a Detroit man who shot a young woman who came knocking on his door, was convicted of 2nd degree murder and manslaughter. The jury didn't buy his claim that he felt threatened by the 19 year old. She had been drinking and got into a car accident. She was knocking to get help but this man chose to shoot her point blank through his locked screen door rather than shut the door and call the police. There are things one can do instead of shooting someone. Now a life has been taken senselessly and Theodore Wafer will spend a long time in prison. This is the world the corporate gun lobby has brought us- shoot first and ask questions later. When a gun is available, it changes the dynamic in a deadly way. Common sense would tell most of us that shooting this girl was just a bad idea given the circumstances. Common sense seems to be in short supply amongst the corporate gun lobby and those who actually believe that more guns make us all safer.

Speaking of more guns making us safer, this article is wondering if that is true. In an interview with Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research:
What he'd like to know is whether those harmful effects are stronger in states with particularly lax standards for who can have a concealed-weapon permit (an aside: all of what we know about this and related gun-policy topics has been seriously hampered by the federal prohibition on funding for gun research). This is the piece of policy that we don't talk about enough: The impact of right-to-carry laws is tied to how easy it is to gain access to that right. Some states have no eligibility requirements. Others are stringent. Some states grant permits to gun owners with a history of domestic violence. Others don't.
"That sort of gets lost on people," Webster says, "because the way this issue is portrayed is that we have one group of people — legal gun owners — and the assumption is that these are law-abiding, god-fearing, church-going people. They’re not to be feared. Then on the other side are all the career criminal folks, and that’s who we’re defending ourselves against.
"But the world doesn’t really look like that. The world is full of all kinds of gray areas."
Good research is important. Lives are at stake. Believe it or not the corporate gun lobby has stopped good government research into the causes and effects of guns and gun violence. This is not a good idea. Finding the causes of public health and safety problems is what leads to saving lives and preventing illness, disease and accidents.

Believe it or not, we can actually make changes to the gun violence epidemic in America. If Congress would Finish the Job on background checks, one place where those who shouldn't have guns get them could be more effectively closed off. If we educate the public about the risks of guns in the home, lives could be saved. If we go after those "bad apple gun dealers" who are responsible for guns getting into the hands of those who shouldn't have them, we could save lives. If people would make sure guns are stored safely away from children, teens and those who would steal them, lives could be saved. Stolen guns and straw purchases account for many crime guns on our streets. What are we doing to stop the shootings? Not nearly enough.

We can make our families safer from the devastation of gun deaths and injuries to families all over the country. Let's get to work.

UPDATE:

As always, it doesn't take long before another stupid and dangerous incident with guns comes along. Believe it or not, ammunition and guns carried around in cars can cause some very dangerous and unexpected conditions. A car accident in Maine resulted in bullets flying as rounds of ammunition and guns inside the car of a Maine concealed carry permit holder which became engulfed in flames. So in addition to the accident itself, passengers and bystanders could have been shot with stray bullets as they exploded out of the burning car. Good grief. From the article:
“The car was fully engulfed and it had exploded already,” Vanadestine said. “While I’m there trying to give first aid and help them I hear this popping.” The driver of the Honda told him he had two loaded handguns, a .40-caliber and a .380, and ammunition in the car.
“All that ammo started to explode and go all over that place. I could see it. The car was absolutely destroyed,” Vanadestine said.
Vanadestine ran to his cruiser and positioned it in front of the people who had been in the car.
“I couldn’t move them. I thought we were going to get hit with rounds,” he said. “For five to 10 minutes those rounds were popping off in that car.” None of the rounds hit the cruiser.
Firefighters had to stay back until the rounds stopped going off.
Nobody was injured by the ammunition.
Where is common sense?

UPDATE #2

Believe it or not, the NRA blackmails candidates for political office. This letter from a Montana candidate makes the claim and he is right. This happens all over America. From the letter:
What got my goat more was the paragraph in bold letters that warned me that failure to reply to this questionnaire would be considered by the National Rifle Association as being against the Constitution of the United States of America.
In 1971, while still in high school in Libby, I took the oath to defend the Constitution from enemies, both foreign and domestic. I gave over 26 years doing just that. My military record will show that I honorably served Active and Reserve Naval Service and the Montana Army and Air National Guard. I refuse to be blackmailed by this organization. I would hope that other candidates feel the same.
This is not OK. It's bad behavior and it's intimidating and insulting. No one needs to be blackmailed by an organization of gun owning folks. This is the country that the corporate gun lobby wants. It's not the country we want or deserve. I commend this candidate for calling out the tactics of the National Rifle Association. I hope others do the same.

UPDATE #3:

I guess I could write a whole new "believe it or not" post with all that is happening out there. Believe it or not, the Republican candidate for Governor in Connecticut believes the Sandy Hook shooting is a "thing of the past". Read about it:
When pressed further on what that alternative bill might look like, Foley said the shooting in Newtown was a thing of the past.
"I don't have the staff available to prepare an alternative bill and we're talking about something that happened several years ago," he said. "I'm looking down the road. I'm looking ahead. I'm looking at jobs and the economy. I'm not governor and I wasn't governor at the time."
Despite repeated efforts to elicit a response from Foley about the high-capacity magazine ban, he eventually said, "I'm not going to answer that question."
The shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, which left 20 children and six educators dead, ranks among the deadliest in U.S. history. The gunman, Adam Lanza, used an AR-15-style Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle with several 30-round magazines, and according to police reports had enough ammunition to kill every student at the school. He took his own life when police arrived at the scene.
Foley's statements are insensitive and clueless as well as offensive. Sandy Hook is not a thing of the past to the parents and the community who lost their children, sisters, mothers and friends. This kind of rudeness is not acceptable and he should be held accountable for what he said. It is beyond belief that a serious candidate running for office in Connecticut would say something so off the mark. I hope this gets shared far and wide and that people looking at who to vote for will pick the person with integrity who cares about common sense and the safety of our children and our families.

8 comments:

  1. japete writes: "Believe it or not, the NRA thinks blind people should be able to purchase and carry guns. Really. I'm not making this up. I mean, why not?"

    The right to keep and bear arms is a specific, enumerated constitutional right as defined in the Second Amendment and affirmed in multiple court cases by the US Supreme Court and various US Circuit Courts of Appeals.

    Are you proposing limiting the constitutional rights of a law-abiding citizen because of a physical disability? Because I don't ever see that standing up in any court.

    What's next, limiting one's right to free speech because of a physical disability? How about one's right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure?

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    1. This has nothing to do with rights. Some people should not have guns. Are you proposing that domestic abusers, felons, adjudicated mentally ill people should be able to legally own and carry guns? Common sense tells us that when you can't see, you shouldn't have a deadly weapon, and most particularly, you shouldn't carry one in public. The rest of us have a right to be protected from people who shouldn't have guns.

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    2. japete writes: "Some people should not have guns."

      We agree.

      "Are you proposing that domestic abusers, felons, adjudicated mentally ill people should be able to legally own and carry guns? "

      Where did I say that? We're talking about law abiding citizens who have a physical disability.

      You're proposing limiting the constitutional rights of a law-abiding citizen because they have a physical disability. What court is going to uphold that restriction?

      "Common sense tells us that when you can't see, you shouldn't have a deadly weapon, and most particularly, you shouldn't carry one in public."

      Perfectly legal throughout the country - and here in Minnesota.

      Again, you want to limit someone's constitutional rights because of a physical disability - not only will this not fly from a constitutional perspective, what you are proposing is a direct violation of existing state and federal law.

      "The rest of us have a right to be protected from people who shouldn't have guns."

      There is no right to be protected. What part of the constitution did you find this in?

      A person with a physical disability should have the same rights as other law-abiding citizens.

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    3. You seem to be blinded by the Constitution. There is absolutely no common sense in a blind person being able to carry a gun. I am betting that 99% of the public would agree on that one. Notice that the NRA took the video off of their website. There was a reason for that. It's ludicrous and even they knew it when they got pushback.

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  2. It would seem the argument here is getting blurred by the distinction between legally being allowed to purchase a gun... vs the "right" to carry or concealed carry depending on the laws of the state you live within. I think if we limit the conversation to the topic of OWNING a firearm then Bryan probably has a valid point and it would seem in my opinion that courts would be reluctant to restrict the ability of someone to Purchase a firearm because they are blind. Not that it matters considering the blind can simply purchase firearms in any of the many states that allow you to purchase firearms without a background check anyhow. Kind of a moot point for now.

    By contrast though, the right to carry a weapon in public or concealed carry as state law may allow is something that can, is, and will continue to be regulated at the state level and this wording exists in the Heller decision. I don't know about Minnesota, but I live in California and to obtain a concealed carry permit you must go before a judge and show cause. Not only do you need to show cause, but anybody applying for one of these permits needs to be prepared to demonstrate proficiency to the judge in the form of safety classes and Yes, sometimes even marksmanship because some of these judges as you might guess out in Liberal California are reluctant to issue these permits under any circumstances ... they Can be real fough about things like that.

    Sooo, if you're blind, legally, the Judge just may take notice of something like that and will decline your request to concealed carry. I know it may seem trivial but I believe that is an important discrepancy in the argument above. I've given it some thought, and although personally I may not be crazy about the idea of blind people being able to purchase firearms, maybe I would not like living next door to such an individual, but I can't really think of a legitimate reason that they can not be allowed to Purchase a firearm. For example they could purchase a car? boat? heavy machinery? chainsaws etc....

    But Carrying a Firearm in Public??? Totally a different ball of wax. As mentioned above that is certainly something that will catch the attention of a judge. The 2nd amendment makes no mention of the right to carry a firearm in public, and the Heller decision steered clear of going there as well. Since Heller & McDonald were decided SCOTUS has had several opportunities to hear cases regarding the topic of carry in public and in each case the court passed on the opportunity to hear the case. There is one currently working it's way through the appellate courts from California... It's been up in the air since February and right now they are awaiting a full hearing by the 9th circuit court.

    I know several people who call themselves responsible gun owners and not a single one of them support the idea of blind people carrying guns in public. I usually get a response along the lines of ... "They're Blind!"

    Nice blog btw. Keep it up.

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  3. Rich writes: "I don't know about Minnesota, but I live in California and to obtain a concealed carry permit you must go before a judge and show cause."

    I'm sorry - this is not a correct description of the California permit law. See the California Office of Attorney General firearms page for official information - the process is managed by the county sheriff:

    http://oag.ca.gov/firearms/pubfaqs#4

    California has a "good cause" requirement in its statute - with different sheriffs having different interpretations of this, of course. This "good cause" requirement was struck down by the 9th circuit in Peruta v. County of San Diego - so to some extent, the law remains a bit in flux in California.

    "The 2nd amendment makes no mention of the right to carry a firearm in public"

    I disagree. It is the "right to keep and bear arms".

    "There is one currently working it's way through the appellate courts from California... It's been up in the air since February and right now they are awaiting a full hearing by the 9th circuit court. "

    That's the aforementioned Perulta case. There are also circuit court of appeals decisions in Illinois, New Jersey, and a district court decision in DC that have ruled on this issue. I foresee an eventual Supreme Court case on this issue.

    "Not that it matters considering the blind can simply purchase firearms in any of the many states that allow you to purchase firearms without a background check anyhow."

    It is a federal crime to purchase a handgun outside of your home state from anyone - a dealer or an individual. You must have the firearm transferred to a dealer within your state and then transfer the firearm from the dealer to yourself through the federal NICs process. Long guns may be purchased in other states under most circumstances, but it depends on the laws of your home state and the state you are purchasing the firearm in.

    Being blind does not remove your constitutional rights - including your right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment.

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    1. Others can comment on Mr. Strawser's assertions.

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  4. Sorry about the mistake on Judge vs Sheriff/Chief Police. I should pay better attention in court. You're correct Bryan. Slightly different from a Judge. You go before a Sheriff or local Chief of Police to get a concealed carry permit in California. I've sat in on a number of these by chance. They can and do occur in a courtroom with a judge present but now that I think about it I'm not sure if the judge asks any questions. They are not our cases so I don't listen. The point remains, to get a concealed carry permit in California you are going to need a Sheriff/CoP to sign off on it and I'm sure they give serious consideration to someone who is blind. It's their signature on the permit after all.

    "I foresee an eventual Supreme Court case on this issue."

    They could have taken New Jerseys (Justifiable Need instead of Good Cause). But SCOTUS passed.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/supreme-court-declines-to-review-new-jerseys-handgun-permit-law/2014/05/05/25f0fcd6-d457-11e3-95d3-3bcd77cd4e11_story.html

    "It is a federal crime to purchase a handgun outside of your home state from anyone"

    That was not my point. Anyone, not just the blind, can purchase guns in states without a background checks. http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/20/local/la-me-cap-guns-20130121

    "I disagree. It is the "right to keep and bear arms".

    Neither the Heller or McDonald cases have stated this.

    "This "good cause" requirement was struck down by the 9th circuit in Peruta v. County of San Diego" ...

    It was not the full 9th circuit court but instead a 3-person appellate panel of the 9th that split 2-1 on the decision. They have a little ways to go before getting to SCOTUS.

    "Being blind does not remove your constitutional rights"

    Agreed. Since the court has not ruled on the right to carry / concealed carry in public as part of the 2nd amendment it remains something that can, will be legislated at the state level.

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