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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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gun violence reality show

What if we had a reality show involving guns and gun violence? People would identify, right? And that's because we are watching a reality show about guns and gun violence every day in America. But I digress. Advertisers for this series could be gun and ammunition manufacturers and members of the corporate gun lobby. The first show would be about a shooter dressed as Batman entering a theater in Aurora, Colorado and shooting up people indiscriminately. He would be a young mentally ill student who got the crazy idea that he should just start shooting at people in a theater where they couldn't get away easily. And of course, the movie he chose was the premier of The Dark Knight Rises. Of course. In the show 12 people would die of their gun injuries and 70 would survive with gun injuries of various kinds. The shooter would be arrested, imprisoned and charged for the murders. The trial would happen more than 2 years after the shooting.

In between the shooting and the trial would come the lawsuit against the ammunition manufacturers for selling thousands of rounds of ammunition negligently to the shooter. Yes, this is the reality happening today. The Brady Center's push to make sure "bad apple" gun and ammunition dealers are held responsible for their failure to sell guns and ammunition to those who are legally able to purchase them is happening in several places. Today the Brady Center held a press conference, including the parents of Jessica Ghawi, one of the victims of the Aurora shooting. From the first linked article above:
“A crazed, homicidal killer should not be able to amass a military arsenal, without showing his face or answering a single question, with the simple click of a mouse,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and co-counsel for Sandy and Lonnie Phillips. “If businesses choose to sell military-grade equipment online, they must screen purchasers to prevent arming people like James Holmes. Sandy and Lonnie Phillips have brought this lawsuit to make sellers of lethal arms and military equipment use reasonable care. ”

“Two years ago when our daughter Jessica was murdered, and we first heard the details of the massacre, I asked my husband: ‘How can anyone order over 4,000 rounds of ammunition without raising any red flags? Why weren’t any questions asked of the person who bought all of this ammunition?” said Sandy Phillips. “As gun owners, parents, and citizens of this country, we hope that our lawsuit will spare other families the tragedy that we have gone through after the death of our beautiful daughter.”

The complaint alleges that each of the online businesses failed to use reasonable safeguards to prevent dangerous people like James Holmes from obtaining high-capacity ammunition magazines, thousands of rounds of ammunition, body armor and tear gas used in his assault. Business practices that disregard these well-known risks and allow people like Holmes to purchase such products without any screening are unreasonably dangerous and create a public nuisance, according to the complaint.
There would be a series of shows about this particular shooting because there is enough information to impart for many episodes.

And then would come a series about a mentally ill young man walking into a Connecticut school with an AR-15 shooting and killing the school's Principal and then walking into several first grade classrooms shooting up little children. That show would end with the viewers not knowing how many were dead or injured. The next show would reveal that the shooter first shot his own mother at home where he got the guns. Then it would reveal that 20 small children and 6 adults were shot to death by the young man who then also shot himself. As part of this series would be the deniers that this shooting ever happened, blaming President Obama for trying to get "gun control" measures passed. There might even be an episode about a Republican candidate for Colorado Pueblo County Commissioner denying the truth about the Sandy Hook shooting. This would be a real life show about real life craziness. People would love it.

You get the picture. This reality show would have many many episodes. In real life outside of the T.V. cameras 32 Americans a day are murdered with guns. In total 80 Americans a day die from gunshot injuries due to homicide, suicide and accidental shootings. Some of these will be included in the reality show.

In real life, law enforcement officers are the targets of some folks who appear to hate them. Though we don't know anything about the suspect in this latest shooting of officers at a Pennsylvania state trooper facility, the shooting of two officers was an awful reminder of the risks that law enforcement officers face every day on the job. The investigation includes a possible profile of the shooter who is yet to be found and arrested. From the article:
The killer had a grudge against the Pennsylvania State Police. He regularly visited a local shooting range to keep his skills sharp. He made several trips to a state police barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania, picking just the right hiding spot from which he could launch an ambush and make his escape.
This chilling profile, developed by state police hunting for the gunman who opened fire on two of their own outside the Blooming Grove barracks late Friday, was released to the public Monday in hopes it might help authorities catch him.
An unknown assailant, using a .308-caliber rifle, killed Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II, 38, and critically wounded Trooper Alex T. Douglass at the remote outpost surrounded by dense forest, then slipped away. The motive is unknown, but police said Monday it’s likely he had a grievance against the state police and wasn’t shy about talking about it, either with people who knew him or on social media.
Authorities believe he may be an avid hunter or received firearms training, possibly from law enforcement or even the military.
Addressing the “coward” who “did it from a place of hiding and ran,” Lt. Col. George Bivens vowed Monday that police will make an arrest.
Hopefully an arrest will be made soon at which time we will know if the investigators are right. If they are, it just could be another "law abiding" gun owner who hates the government and law enforcement. There are a group of extremists out there who fit this profile. Remember the recent Nevada shooting? Remember the Pittsburgh ambush by Richard Poplawski? Remember the recent shooting of a Minnesota police officer? This stuff is made for T.V. drama only it is happening in real life all over America.

Also in real life young black men become the targets for private citizens and even police officers and are shot in high numbers. These episodes would include the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Trayvon Martin in Florida and Jordan Davis, also in Florida. The escapades of George Zimmerman, since his acquittal of murdering Martin, could take up a half year or so of episodes.

The show would also include the ridiculous stupid and dangerous incidents that happen every day in homes, on the streets and in public places, often by otherwise "law abiding" gun owners. Let's start with this one involving a kids' football coach and some angry parents. The Kansas story is sordid and a great ( or terrible) example of our American gun culture gone wrong. From the article:
Police are still looking for the men who they said threatened a youth football league coach with a gun and then began beating him after a dispute over playing time. The coach’s wife pulled out a gun and fired it in the air to scare the men away. (...) 
One of the men lifted his shirt to display a handgun tucked into the waist of his pants, Espinoza said. Moments later, five or six other men began beating up the 37-year-old coach. One of the men used a set of brass knuckles, Espinoza said.
Seeing the attack, the coach’s wife pulled out a gun and fired a warning shot into the air, Burris said.
The coach broke free of his attackers and went to his car for a second gun, which he pointed at various people in the crowd, Espinoza said.
The attackers had all fled the park by the time officers arrived, Espinoza said. The guns used by the coach and his wife were confiscated as evidence. No arrests have been made.
“It’s upsetting to even hear a story like this,” said Espinoza, who is a youth league football coach himself. “It just sets a terrible example of coaching and parenting.” (...) 
“He’s been a great role model” for kids, Burris said of the coach, who has been with the Tigers for a few years and worked in the league for at least 15 years. “He’s really helped.”
Despite that background, Burris said, “you can’t take weapons out around children.”
Both the coach and his wife have concealed-carry permits for their weapons, he said.
What more can be said about this? No "you can't or shouldn't take weapons out around children " but a lot of people do anyway. Just imagine the altercation going terribly wrong if the guns had actually been aimed and shot at other people and someone had been injured or killed. Because that's what happens when people with guns get angry with other people. In this case, the scene was 3 people waving their guns around like they were in some kind of movie or T.V. comedy. Ludicrous. And as for role models? Not so much. Now the children who were there witnessed 3 adults using guns to threaten other adults. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill other human beings. What about this don't concealed carry permit holders get? Did they get any training about what a bad idea it is to wave a gun around in a public place where children are around? If not, why not?

In my last post I wrote about the National Football League and domestic abuse and now, alleged child abuse by Adrian Peterson of my own Minnesota Vikings. This behavior is disgusting and simply not OK. Football is a violent sport. The violence is part of the game and Americans seem to like it or like to watch it anyway. I guess players can't turn off the violence in their private lives. Often these players are role models for our children. If the parents and coaches at that Kansas youth football team want to be role models for children, they will leave their guns and their tempers at home and just watch and coach the game. If professional sports figures want to be role models for others they will behave themselves off the field or ice and treat their families and friends with respect. Violent behavior is not acceptable in real life. And the sponsors who fund the airing of professional sports for our viewing pleasure may just decide that they don't want to spend their money unless the organizations get their act together and do something to deal with their players behavior. Money talks. Perhaps that is what it will take for us to realize that in real life people are behaving badly. We can do something about this if we so choose.

Or there could be a series of episodes about small children accessing loaded guns allowed by the adults in their lives and shooting themselves or others. One of the latest examples of this irresponsibility with guns took place in Arkansas when a 3 year old found a loaded gun and shot himself. This particular series would also be quite a few episodes because these kinds of incidents are happening in real life many times a week. 8 children a day die from gunshot injuries. That is real life.

And then a number of episodes could be aired about our politicians pandering to the corporate gun lobby and refusing to pass sensible gun laws. That would reflect real life for sure. Included in this would have to be the fallacies of the gun lobby and the extreme rhetoric used by the gun extremists. And then there could be one or two shows about the politicians who run political ads showing themselves using guns. Check out this latest one aired by Alison Lundergan Grimes, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. For that, too, is real life. It's a travesty that Grimes thought she had to do this to get elected. She didn't but many politicians believe in the fiction posed as reality by the corporate gun lobby.

This series would resemble fiction more than reality. It's obvious that common sense is not happening in real life. It's also not happening on T.V. in dramas, mysteries, comedies or reality T.V. shows. It's time for us to take a good hard look at the reality of the role guns and gun violence play in our communities. The recent incidents in the NFL did not involve guns but there have been others that did and resulted in serious injury or death. Professional sports players and gun incidents are a microcosm of real life and the real world of the American gun culture. Would it make a good reality show? Many T.V. dramas run episodes about fictional gun incidents, murders, domestic abuse and child abuse. They are meant to be fiction. But is fiction more real than real life?

UPDATE:

There is now a named suspect in the shooting of 2 Pennsylvania State Troopers. From the article:
The suspect in the killing of a trooper and the critical wounding of another outside a rural barracks is a survivalist who has expressed a desire to kill law enforcement officers and commit mass murder, state police said Tuesday.
Eric Matthew Frein, 31, of Canadensis, Pa., is still armed with the .308-caliber rifle that he used to open fire on the barracks late Friday, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said at a news conference where he revealed the suspect's name.
Noonan called Frein "extremely dangerous."
"He has made statements about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and also to commit mass acts of murder," Noonan said. "What his reasons are, we don't know. But he has very strong feelings about law enforcement and seems to be very angry with a lot of things that go on in our society."
Frein was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder, homicide of a law enforcement officer and other offenses. About 200 law enforcement officials are combing the rural area of northeastern Pennsylvania marked by dense forest, but "we have no idea where he is," Noonan said.
Frein lived about 20 miles from the ambush site and lived with his parents until a few months ago, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
America has "home grown" terrorists. It's something we should all be concerned about.

And we should be concerned about the real life drama that is set to happen on Saturday on bridges between Mexico and the U.S. From the article:
He expressed concern for the “hundreds of millions of dollars” in commerce that he said flows over the bridges, and he said he was worried about the militia’s guns.
“I know that the state of Texas provides for them to be able to display their firearms,” Villareal told KRGV. ”I’m not going to lie to you; it’s going to make us nervous. We’re not used to seeing firearms being openly displayed.”
More details on the militia were not immediately available, and Villareal said, ”We’ve never dealt with militia here in Starr County.”
He added a plug for government forces — the same government forces whose ineffectiveness the militia members are presumably protesting.
“I’m a 100 percent sure that with the National Guard, with DPS, with Border Patrol and local law enforcement, we’ll communicate and we’ll handle whatever comes,” said Villareal.
Never mind law enforcement. These folks think they can take matters into their own hands. Things could go badly but let's hope they don't for everyone's sake.

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