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.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The price of guns and gun violence

from C.J. Kalish
I have been thinking about the Viet Nam war lately since I am dealing with my brother's difficulties with PTSD, depression and Parkinson's Disease, results of his time spent in that horrible war. He has suffered terribly ever since he came back to the States after the war. It left him with life long emotional and phsychological scars and now a physical disease that many think could be caused by exposure to Agent Orange. He is too young for all of this trouble. It is costing him, the VA system and his health insurance policy a lot of money. It is causing terrible stress on him and now on the rest of the family as we all try to figure out how he can live with the disease as it gets worse.

So when I found the meme on the left, it rang true to me. It should be a wake-up call for all of us but I know that it isn't because the gun lobby has fooled a minority of Americans into believing we should do nothing about the violence that takes so many lives and breaks so many hearts. The toll keeps growing and we keep grieving. Just yesterday 3 people were shot and killed and 2 injured in a quiet neighborhood near Kansas City, Missouri. It goes on and on and the scars are deep. Gun violence is costing us all a lot of money and a lot of emotional and physical trauma. A new study by The Urban Institute found that in 6 different states, chosen because they had different laws and different cultures, billions of dollars are spent on gun injuries. From the article:
The total national hospital costs associated with firearm assault injuries ballooned to almost $700 million in 2010, according to a new analysis by The Urban Institute. And the bulk of those costs—almost three-quarters of them, to be more precise—aren't being paid for by the perpetrators, victims, or insurance companies, but rather by the American public.
"Most of this cost is paid for by the public, either through public insurance programs such as Medicaid or as uncompensated care for the uninsured," the Institute said in its report. "In a time of restricted public resources, these findings suggest that significant public resources could be saved or redirected if effective gun-violence prevention strategies could be identified."
The costs, both publicly funded and not, vary considerably by state. Within the six geographically and demographically different states singled out as part of the Institute's analysis—Arizona, California, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Wisconsin—the hospital costs for firearm assaults ranged from just under $4 million in Wisconsin in 2010, to nearly $90 million in California that same year. Nationwide, the total hospital costs from gun assault injuries amounted to $670 million. (...) 
"The purpose of this study was to dive into six rather different states and see if the pattern was there in all of those very diverse states," said Embry Howell, a senior Health Policy fellow at The Urban Institute. "And it was. While there's a range, it's actually a pretty tight range. Most of the costs are coming straight out of state Medicaid budgets, or even local hospital budgets."
The analysis also found that gun assault injuries are disproportionately concentrated among young males—young men aged 15 to 34 accounted for 70 percent of such injuries. And young black males are the largest victims; in each of the six states surveyed, black males had the highest rate of firearm assault injury.
As the number of gun stores continues to grow nationwide, and evidence continues to surface that more guns might not actually lead to less crime—or hospital visits, for that matter—it's important to bear in mind that the costs of gun violence aren't merely a burden on those directly afflicted, but also the wider public.
Kids and teens pay a particularly high price for gun violence, often with their lives. A new series of articles based on research by young student journalists has found information that concurs with others about kids, teens and gun violence. From the article:
For every U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan during 11 years of war, at least 13 children were shot and killed in America.
More than 450 kids didn’t make it to kindergarten.
Another 2,700 or more were killed by a firearm before they could sit behind the wheel of a car.
Every day, on average, seven children were shot dead.
A News21 investigation of child and youth deaths in America between 2002 and 2012 found that at least 28,000 children and teens 19-years-old and younger were killed with guns. Teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 made up over two-thirds of all youth gun deaths in America.
The News21 findings are compiled in the most complete database to date from records obtained from 49 state health departments and FBI Supplementary Homicide Reports.
Stunning. As the school year has just begun, it's a good idea to focus on child safety issues. One of them just has to be preventing them from senseless gun deaths and injuries at home, on the streets or in school. And more from the above linked article:
“It’s an unacceptable number and it should be regardless of where you stand on gun-owning ideology,” said Colette Martin, a member of Parents Against Gun Violence. “The numbers are that high and we are as a country ignoring them.”
Most of those killed by firearms, 62 percent, were murdered and the majority of victims were black children and teens. Suicides resulted in 25 percent of the firearm deaths of young people: The majority of them were white. More than 1,100 children and teens were killed by a gun that accidentally discharged.
I write often on this blog about "accidental" gun deaths of and by children. It's just not something that happens in other countries. In America, this is due to the easy access to loaded guns by kids and teens. It's the guns. And because of the "accidental" and totally avoidable shooting of a gun range instructor by a 9 year old girl who was shooting a fully automatic machine gun, talk has turned to kids and guns. As we can imagine, the girl and her family are going to be greatly affected by that shooting. An article reveals that the family didn't realize that the bullets from the machine gun had hit the gun instructor and they are now all trying to cope with the horror of the incident:
He said the family asked “all compassionate Americans to pray for their children and the entire Vacca family,” and for the privacy of the two families to be respected “as they seek to deal with this tragic accident.”
One deputy said in the police report that after the shooting, the father “stated his family is in shock and just wants to leave the area and go back to Las Vegas.” The deputy said he had asked to speak to his daughter, but the father said “he would prefer if no one talked to his children as they are going through a lot.”
Nothing will ever be the same for that little girl. The ultimate price is paid by those who have shot someone "accidentally".  The costs of gun violence are great- not just financial costs, but the emotional and physical costs. A man who shot and killed his own brother when they were children reflected about his own experience in trying to cope with what happened for this New York Times article: 
I was on the cusp of adolescence. Just a kid participating in a popular American ritual: hunting, firing a gun. To hunt, to fire a gun is to have your imagination tangled up with fantasies of power. A fatal accident makes a mockery of these fantasies, leaving the unlucky fantasist exposed to the deeper randomness of life and the terrifying fact that so much of our experience is beyond our control.
It’s as if the world you inhabit (in my case, a rural field; in hers, a shooting range) is suddenly shown to be only a stage set with one of those old-fashioned painted backdrops, and your inadvertent, violent act has torn a gash in the scenery. “Accident” steps through it. “Accident,” which is such an innocuous and useful term in most contexts, but now for the child is suddenly a terrifying word, perhaps even the name of the grim and mocking god who rules this new reality.
With the accident that took my brother’s life, my whole world was changed, utterly and to its core. I survived, grew, and perhaps even thrived. But I never healed. And my survival had as much to do with luck as anything else. Part of my luck was to discover poetry, which has sustained me through a lifetime.
As a writer, my faith is that words can help us connect and make sense of our lives by bringing out our secrets and shames as well as our joys. And yet, when I try to think of what I might say to that girl, I think also of the danger of words used as premature consolation and explanation. I lost a (na├»ve and conventional) religious faith the day of my brother’s death, because a well-meaning adult assured me that my dead brother was already, at that very moment, sitting down in heaven to feast with Jesus. How could I tell her that my brother was still near me, still horribly close to me — that every time I squeezed shut my eyes to keep out the world, I saw him lying lifeless at my feet? (...)  
In this impossible situation, I hope that whatever is said to that girl is not said in order to relieve adult anxieties in the face of horror. And this also, as a deep longing out of my own, long-ago shame and isolation: that someone larger and trusted by her, someone who pretends to understand this bewildering world, will hold her and give her permission to feel what she feels and, in some way beyond words, give her the courage to endure what she must endure.
There isn't much more to say. Lives are lost every day senselessly due to all kinds of accidents and diseases. As a country we work hard on cures or prevention. It is beyond explanation that, given the facts and the lives lost, we do nothing about the death toll from gunshot injuries. It's also past time to act and deal with the role guns and gun violence play in our every day lives. When more Americans die from every day gun violence than military members serving in wars, something has gone terribly wrong. Reasonable gun owners and reasonable non gun owners can come together to prevent gun violence without the divisive nature of the current conversation. As with anything else, with rights come responsibilities. We are shirking our common responsibilities to keep our children and our communities safe. Where is common sense?


Looks like gun ranges are continuing to be a problem for young children. A 7 year old boy was injured over the last week-end by a bullet fragment at a gun range in California:
A 7-year-old is in the hospital with a gunshot wound after authorities say he was shot over the weekend while at target practice in El Dorado County.
The incident happened along remote Bottlehill Road outside of Georgetown. El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies say a bay area family set up a shooting range on their property.
One of the two people shooting at the targets was a 7-year-old boy using a .22-caliber bolt action youth rifle.
“While they were doing this the boy jumped up and complained of pain in his chest,” said Lt Tim Becker. “His father looked saw a little hole in a t-shirt he was wearing and blood behind the hole.”
Again, where is common sense?


Well, of course, a lot of people are weighing in about the 9 year old Uzi shooting incident. Here is another from Leonard Pitts Jr. who explains the obvious. This shooting was so totally ludicrous, tragic and avoidable that it should make us all leap to our feet and demand that something should change. From the article:
It is the last question that should most concern us. There’s not much you can do about individual lack of judgment. Some people will always be idiots. Some companies will always be idiots. But a country and its laws should be an expression of a people’s collective wisdom. So for a country to be idiotic says something sweeping about national character.
And where gun laws are concerned, the United States of America is — individual dissenting voices duly noted and exempted from the following descriptive — dumber than a bag of bullets. This, after all, is the country where you can take a gun into a bar. Where you can erect a shooting range in your own backyard. Where a blind person can get a gun permit. You think it’s insane that Arizona allows a 9-year-old to shoot at a firing range? ABC News reports that one in Texas allows them to do so at age 6.
God bless America. We legislate against Sharia law in places where there are no Muslims, much less an inclination toward Sharia. We pass laws to curtail election fraud despite the fact that election fraud, as a practical matter, does not exist. Yet we endure a yearly toll of gun carnage that makes civilized people in civilized places shake their heads in wonder and our only action is inaction.
Indeed. God bless America.


  1. "Nothing wrong with shooting as long as the right people get shot." - Harry Callahan

    1. Dear readers. I published this only so you could see this offensive comment from a gun rights extremist who apparently thinks some people deserve to be shot.