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.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Yes we can change the gun culture

From the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Some days I wonder just where in the world we went wrong in America? When a legislature, like that in Pennsylvania, believes that an organization representing the gun industry should be able to sue cities over their gun laws, something has gone terribly wrong. The NRA is pushing things to extremes and they have lapdogs ready, willing and able in some places to do their bidding. It's stupid, sick and dangerous.

We have a problem in our country that can be addressed with some common sense measures to prevent people who shouldn't have guns from accessing them. Why are we not addressing this serious problem? Why are we in a panic over Ebola and not over the increase in gun deaths in our country? It defies explanation.

And the lapdogs elected to Congress are saying some pretty awful public things about guns. Take Don Young, Alaska Republican Representative for one example. From the article:
Even more shocking, Grier said, was the way Young talked about suicide less than a week after a high school classmate took his own life. Young told the assembly of about 130 students that suicide was caused by a lack of community support, which angered a close friend of the deceased student. When the student interrupted Young to say that wasn’t true, the congressman called him a “smartass,” Grier said. (...)
The leader of the nation's largest suicide prevention organization expressed dismay at Young's comments.
"Alaska has one of the highest rates of suicide in the United States and it is disappointing that Representative Young would say such ill-informed remarks about something that is taking the lives of his constituents, young and old, across the Frontier State," said Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Can anyone be more insensitive and offensive? Does this help explain why we are not addressing the problem of too many gun deaths in America?Alaska's suicide rate is high and most of these deaths are by firearm. Facts matter. But never mind. Rep. Young is on the Board of the NRA. There's a connection between the corporate gun lobby and denial of the actual problem of high rates of gun violence in our country. There's a connection between high rates of gun deaths and gun ownership and lax gun laws. The Violence Policy Center has a new report with this information as well.  From that article:
The five states with the highest per capita gun death rates in 2012 were Wyoming, Louisiana, Alaska, Mississippi, and Alabama. Each of these states has extremely lax gun violence prevention laws as well as a higher rate of gun ownership. The state with the lowest gun death rate in the nation was Massachusetts, followed by Hawaii, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey. Each of these states has strong gun violence prevention laws and has a lower rate of gun ownership.
Facts matter.

And good grief, how could this be any worse? Don't gun owners understand that you can't clean a gun when you aren't sure there is still a bullet in the chamber? Why do these things happen so often? A 9 month old Indiana baby is the latest victim of reckless and stupid gun handling by a law abiding gun owner:
Witnesses told deputies 31-year-old John Hambaugh, III, was sitting in his kitchen to clean his handgun just before 5:00 p.m. When he started disassembling the gun, a round that had been left in the handgun discharged, going completely through Hambaugh's left thigh and hitting his son's head.
Both Hambaugh and his son were taken to Community Howard Regional Hospital in Kokomo, then the infant was airlifted to Riley Children's Hospital where, at last check, he was listed in critical condition. Hambaugh was treated in Kokomo and, as of Wednesday night, was expected to be released soon.
Tragic and senseless.

This, by the way, is not just an isolated incident as the gun lobby would have us believe. Incidents like this are happening every day. Guns in homes are a risk to the safety of those inside. Every gun owner should be required to take training before they walk out of the store with that gun. But the corporate gun lobby is so intent on making profits that we don't pass gun safety measures to save lives. And further, about 40% of gun sales take place without background checks so just anyone can "walk out the door" with a gun. Crazy. Our cavalier attitude and culture about guns is leading to more people being killed. I see the stories about the many incidents, like the one above, where guns are "accidentally" discharged- or where a spouse/partner kills their ( usually) wife, girlfriend or partner. Stories about these deaths are published in newspapers and talked about on local TV news stories every day in our country. And what are we doing about it? Very little.

The thing is, real people are dying every day from gun violence. The number of gun deaths is rising according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control ( chart in the upper left of this post). But our Congress has purposely stopped funding for research into gun injuries and deaths. This is unacceptable and crazy. Not only has Congress looked the other way when it comes for funding for research into gun violence prevention, but now that everyone is in a panic about the Ebola virus, we know that Congress has also not been funding emergency preparedness efforts for just what we are experiencing today.

We have a serious national public health and safety epidemic that we are doing little about because the corporate gun lobby cares more about profits than lost lives.

Yesterday I attended an event in Duluth with those who founded and have worked with the "Duluth model" for dealing with domestic violence. Since my sister was shot in a domestic shooting while trying to leave a difficult marriage I am hyper aware of how easily relationship problems can lead to physical abuse, injuries and death. Vice President Biden gets this and has been a leader in preventing violence against women. His speech yesterday was passionate and inspirational. He cares deeply about the issue. You can see just a part of his remarks in the linked article above. Vice President Biden knows that we can and must change the culture. From another article about the event:
The Duluth stop was anything but the energetic, late-season campaign rally that was promised for the Iron Range. Taking a somber tone, the vice president and other speakers recognized the work that already has been done, and still needs to be done, to combat domestic abuse.
“We have to change the culture in America,” Biden said. “The community has to be aware of this vile crime. The community has to be understanding."
Yes we can change the culture of domestic violence. We can change the culture of gun violence. We all need to work together to make it happen. Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs is an example of working together with a coordinated community response to a problem that needs to be addressed. Let's do the same with gun violence prevention. We are better than this.

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