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.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Another tragic day in America

From the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Yesterday was just another day in America. But that's the problem. It was just another day in America. The news of another school shooting started coming in the early afternoon. Ho hum. Just another school shooting. What else is new? There have only been 74 or 50 or 80 school shooting incidents since the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in December of 2012 less than 2 years ago. This time it was a high school near Seattle in Marysville. As always there was a lot of chatter wondering how this could be happening yet again. And people also say that they wouldn't have suspected a boy like this or a person like this to become a school shooter. He was a good kid- happy- involved in school activities, etc. And then the usual wondering if there were any warning signs and could this have been prevented. And then the inevitable talk about mental illness and the need to deal with that. Finally I heard a few people mention that access to guns was, indeed, a problem. Do you think? From the article:
By the time it was over, two people -- the gunman and a female student -- were dead and four were wounded, according to authorities. Those wounded were all under the age of 18, they said.
 Student: There was blood everywhere Students flee after reported shooting
The shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Marysville police spokesman Robb Lamoureux told reporters.
Two girls are in the intensive care unit at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, and two boys are in ICU at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Providence spokeswoman Erin Al-Wazan said.
Three are "very critically ill" with "very serious" injuries, she said. One is in serious condition. One of the boys, age 14, suffered a jaw injury. The other, age 15, was critically injured in the head.
Source: Gun traced to shooter's father
The gun used in the shooting has been traced to Fryberg's father, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN. It is a "high capacity" weapon but did not have an extended magazine, the source said on condition of anonymity.
The source said investigators are searching the family home.
A Beretta .40-caliber handgun is believed to have been used, a federal law enforcement source told CNN.
This needs to be repeated and highlighted: "The gun used in the shooting has been traced to Fryberg's father....." 68% of school shooters get their guns from their own homes according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence to prevent gun violence. The Brady Center has a new campaign highlighting facts about kids and guns. From their website:
The ease with which young people are able to access guns is deeply troubling. Surveys show that 1 in 20 high school students reported carrying a weapon in the past 30 days. Keeping our schools safe starts at home, and parents have a fundamental role to play in averting school violence. In the United States, 1.7 million children have access to an unlocked, loaded gun in their home. Tragedies could be avoided if parents would only take simple steps to ensure that these guns are not accessible to their children.
This America’s Safe Schools Week, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is launching a new initiative aimed at raising awareness about the dangerous connection between guns in the home and youth gun deaths, and achieving a future where no child is killed by a parent’s gun. Find out how you can help at www.bradycenter.org/imagine
I found this article on the CNN website today that says it all:
It should not be. It cannot be. It is not normal, in a civilized nation, to have over 30,000 gun deaths a year. It is not normal, in a civilized nation, to expect educators and parents and first responders to have plans at the ready for a shooting at their school. It is not normal, in a civilized nation, to assert that the best solution to gun violence is for more people to have more access to more guns.
So the question we must confront is: Are we a civilized nation? Earlier this week, I listened to a BBC correspondent open a report on the shootings in Ottawa, Ontario, by saying: "In a scene reminiscent of America... ." That is not the kind of exceptionalism America should be proud of.
There is much more in this article that everyone should read. We have to decide if we are a civilized country. Yesterday I wrote that we can actually do something about devastating gun violence. Clearly one thing that not only can but should be done is safely securing guns from kids and teens. Given the fact that innocent lives are taken by a school shooter who very often accesses the gun from their own home, why are we not making this a number one priority in America? It only makes common sense. But common sense is not practiced by the corporate gun lobby where profits are more important than saving lives. Why doesn't the corporate gun lobby step up to the plate and talk about the risks of children and guns? The answer lies in their campaign to sell guns to children. Does anyone remember the child sized "assault type" gun that was given to a 5 year old Kentucky boy who shot his sister accidentally with the gun? From the article:
"It's just one of those nightmares," he said, "a quick thing that happens when you turn your back."
Young children in the area are often introduced to guns at an early age, Gregory said.
 Ferguson: Irresponsible humans, not guns
"In this part of the country, it's not uncommon for a 5-year-old to have a gun or for a parent to pass one down to their kid," he said.
Her family kept the Crickett rifle in what they considered to be a safe spot, Cumberland County Coroner Gary White told the CNN affiliate.
The boy was playing with it Tuesday when it accidentally went off and killed his sister, White said.
"The little Crickett rifle is a single-shot rifle, and it has a child safety," White told CNN. "It's just a tragic situation."
Kids and guns: 'These are not isolated tragedies'
The Crickett website features three .22-caliber rifle models for kids, with shoulder stock colors ranging from pink to red, white and blue swirls. "My first rifle" is the company's slogan.
Or in the NRA's Wayne LaPierre lying that only good guys with guns can stop bad guys with guns.


And then the news came on the heels of the school shooting of a spree shooting of law enforcement officers in the Sacramento, California area. Two fathers are dead as a result. What is going on in America? Why are shooters targeting law enforcement officers? There are some on the extreme right fringe who hate government and police officers. Remember the recent shooting in Nevada?:
The Las Vegas Sun quoted neighbors at the couple’s apartment complex saying that the two “had a reputation for spouting racist, anti-government views, bragging about their gun collection and boasting that they’d spent time at Cliven Bundy’s ranch during a recent standoff there between armed militia members and federal government agents.”
We are living in a country where mass and spree shootings continue to happen unabated. The talk from the corporate gun lobby and their minions always turns to the idea that more guns will make us safer. Do I need to remind everyone that law enforcement officers are armed? And no, even they could not stop the 2 people who seemed intent on shooting officers in Sacramento yesterday. Does that contradiction occur to these folks? No one wants to talk about the fact that most of these shootings are surprises and they happen in an instant. That is the whole idea. People who shoot others in these kind of shootings take their victims by surprise with little opportunity to defend oneself. That is the lie coming from the gun lobby.

The other lie is that if you expose your kids and teens to guns they will always be responsible around guns and know what to do. I hear that often. Yes, that is likely true with most kids, teens and guns. But when we have a culture of guns and a cavalier attitude towards weapons that are designed to kill another human being, kids can access guns and shoot their friends and classmates as just happened in Washington, way too easily. What we have now is clearly not working. The Marysville shooter was a hunter and very familiar with guns.

No gun law will stop all of this. But if we don't start passing some laws to prevent at least some of our shootings, the message we send is that anything goes. Laws are passed for a reason. It lets citizens know that some things are forbidden or unsafe. That is why we have speed limits, stop signs, traffic signals, mandatory seat belts and air bags. That is why smokers can't smoke inside of public buildings any more. That is why people have to pass a driver's test before driving a car. That is why teachers, doctors, health care professionals, accountants, other professionals need to be licensed. We are saying that we want to protect our citizens from accidents, from injury, from death or from fraud or incompetence. This is what civilized countries do. Otherwise we would have chaos and a disregard for public health and safety. Oh wait.......

It comes down to what kind of communities we want. Most other democratized industrialized countries have managed to send the safety message to their citizens by passing gun laws to protect innocent people from being shot by someone who shouldn't have a gun- and that includes kids and teens. It also includes felons, domestic abusers, rapists, terrorists, and those who are deemed to be dangerously mentally ill. I write about these laws when I travel to other countries. In those countries, for the most part, people are not shooting at police officers because they hate them. Kids are not bringing guns to schools and killing other kids. When they have, as in Scotland, laws are passed to stop the next one from happening. Or in Australia where no mass shooting has occurred since the Port Arthur shooting because the country decided that laws had to change.

We have an opportunity to pass laws that can make us safer. But our politicians are turning their backs on us and ignoring the voices of the majority. Meanwhile, the shootings continue and things are not improving as I pointed out in my last post. Is there any doubt that America has the highest number of these type of shootings? Yes, there is some controversy about what constitutes a mass shooting or a school shooting. Why even argue about it? We know we have too many no matter what the number is. And yes, shootings happen in other countries occasionally like the recent shooting in Ottawa, Canada, also much covered in the news. But they are rare compared to our own country. And here's why, according to the linked article:
He says if someone with Zehaf-Bibeau's past had approached him for advice on how to get a firearms licence, he would have told him not to waste his time.
"I would tell this person it is almost impossible, if not impossible, for you to obtain firearms."
Friedman says either of his two known criminal convictions would be enough to disqualify him. So probably would the charge of robbery he faced in Vancouver, even though he was not convicted.
He says police consult the CPIC (Canadian Police Intelligence Centre) database when considering licence applications. CPIC shows all contact with police or mental health authorities, not only convictions.
"If one indeed was ordered to be assessed by a psychiatric facility in connection with a criminal proceeding [as Zehaf-Bibeau was], that would show up as an immediate flag."
Friedman adds that the fact Zehaf-Bibeau had no fixed address was in itself enough to bar him from a firearms licence.
It all means that Zehaf-Bibeau must have obtained his rifle either by stealing it, buying it on the black market, or been given the rifle, either by someone unaware of his motives or an accomplice.
It may be that last possibility that explains why police are so focused on tracking the weapon's history.
Canada has strict gun laws. It is difficult for people like the shooter in the recent case to obtain a gun. It's not impossible but Canada has decided that in order to protect its' citizens strong gun laws are necessary. It will be important to find out where this shooter got his gun. From the linked article:
In 2011, the U.S. population was approximately 312 million, and the country had 11,000 homicides from firearms. In the same year, Canada’s population was approximately 34 million and 158 gun-related homicides. That’s roughly 1 death for every 28,000 people in the United States vs. 1 death for every 215,000 people in Canada. The United States owns more firearms than any country in the world — 270 million of them as of 2011. (...) 
Canada’s worst mass shooting happened on Dec. 6, 1989 in Montreal when Marc Lepine shot and killed 14 women and then himself at Ecole Polytechnique college. Known as the Montreal massacre, it seemed to wake the country up to the idea that it wasn’t immune from one sick person armed with a gun. It certainly woke me up; I can remember the candlelight vigils that came afterward and every year on the anniversary the queasy feeling of remembering someone who held so much hate, especially for women. In response, firearms laws were tightened.
Canadian gun laws are complicated, dividing firearms into categories with requirements including registration, permits, training courses and exams for all allowed weapons. First-time owners must also fill out a survey that asks about mental health and criminal record. There is a background check and mandatory 28-day waiting period. Canada also has no law or constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to bear arms.
This bears repeating: " Canada has no law or constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to bear arms." Worth considering. Also worth considering: "There is a background check and mandatory 28-day waiting period."

It's way past time for a change- to our elected leaders- to our gun laws- to our culture- to our laws. Please join me and the many others who know this is true and demand the change we deserve in our country. No one is immune from the kind of shootings that happened yesterday. We need to make these kind of incidents infrequent instead of being on the daily news. We are better than this.


I am updating this post with 2 things. One is a great article in The Daily Beast by Cliff Schecter:
"Meanwhile, returning from la-la land to our regularly scheduled program, 86 people died in the United States today from gunfire. Just like the day before. Much like the 86 who will die tomorrow. Nobody died from Ebola, or ISIS or Honduran children, unless it was in a goofball-induced, Louie Gohmert fever dream. Funny, then, that you won't hear these very same tricorne-wearing town criers utter a word about this preventable sickness that is genuinely killing Americans. 
This is only made that much worse by the grim statistics we augmented on Friday. We had our 87th—yes 87th—school shooting since Newtown. If this doesn't shock you at least somewhat, you've been living here too long. This time it was near Seattle, where another troubled young man got his hands on a gun in a society where we don't make it much of a challenge for children. 
As the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence made clear in a recent report called "The Truth About Kids and Guns," he and the one young woman he killed would have only made up two of the 2,703 child and teen firearm deaths in America in 2011. That is seven children and teens killed by gunfire each and every day in America. It's a scandal. 
The manipulation of fear about things that won't kill us, is killing us. By ensuring we don't pay attention to the real killers in America
Perhaps even more scandalous, however, is what Brady pointed out in a website they released this past week, showing just how bought off our politicians are by the lunatic lobby known as the National Rifle Association (NRA), as well as their fellow travelers the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and Gun Owners of America (GOA). Basically, we are talking about 90 percent of the Republican Party, and enough Democrats to make you feel dizzier than Bristol Palin at an Alaskan house party. " 
"We are deeply troubled by today’s school shooting in Marysville, Washington. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. Today’s events underscore this startling fact: For the last two decades, the rate of school shootings in Washington state was more than twice the national average.
Schools are supposed to be safe havens where children can learn, grow and achieve. Clearly, we as a nation need to do more to protect our children.
The specifics of today’s events remain under investigation. If it is like more than two-thirds of all school shootings, then the shooter got the gun from his own home or that of a relative.
If school shootings and other violent incidents at schools are to be stopped, the effort must begin at home. It starts with parents, who need to recognize the risks of guns in the home and make safer choices about gun access and storage. In addition, Washington voters can help make their state safer by voting for ballot measure 594 that will extend background checks to all gun sales and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people."

What will it take before we stop being the country that turns away from the daily shooting tragedies and does nothing? Have we had enough yet? Or will your child, your grandchild, your neighbor, your sister, brother or cousin need to be the next victim in order for you to act? What will it take?  The time for action is NOW.


  1. I think this is important enough that I am referencing it on my own blog, "American Liberal Times." I don't think we can have this discussion often enough. I am one who wishes people would wake up to what is going on around them and get off their collective duffs and demand that something be done about gun viiolence safety in The United States. I am very happy to have discovered your blog and I will be referencing it a lot in the days to come because what you are saying here is too darned important to just let lie. Keep up the good work and never let anything deter your course. Your voice is much needed in the arena of Public Issues and I, for one, am damned glad to have found you. Respectfully yours, John Liming: http://americanliberaltimes.com

    1. Thank you for your compliment and sharing my post. We have to raise our collective voices to get something done.