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 18, 2014

This is the America we have- is this what we want?

More and more, there is evidence that we are living in a country where crazy ideas trump the truth and reality. Such is the case with our country's gun laws. In no other country not at war do we see the incidents that I, and others, write about on a regular basis. It is coming down to public safety versus a huge and profitable gun industry. On what side will our leaders come down?

Do we really want a country where the first amendment right to free speech is canceled because the supposed second amendment right to carry a gun wherever one goes no matter what trumps it? In Utah, the answer is, apparently Yes. A woman critic of video games who is a feminist and blogger, had to cancel a recent speech at a Utah college because of threats of a mass shooting. In Utah, people with gun carry permits can carry in colleges and apparently no one can stop them from bringing guns into a public venue. What a crazy world we have created. From the article:
“Anita Sarkeesian has canceled her scheduled speech for tomorrow following a discussion with Utah State University police regarding an email threat that was sent to Utah State University," the announcement on the university website said. "During the discussion, Sarkeesian asked if weapons will be permitted at the speaking venue. Sarkeesian was informed that, in accordance with the State of Utah law regarding the carrying of firearms, if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue.”
Shortly after the announcement, Sarkeesian took to Twitter to criticize the gun policy.
"Forced to cancel my talk at USU after receiving death threats because police wouldn't take steps to prevent concealed firearms at the event," she tweeted. "Requested pat downs or metal detectors after mass shooting threat but because of Utah's open carry laws police wouldn’t do firearm searches."
Gun rights have trumped the right of people to be safe from gun violence. This is disturbing. It is also stupid and dangerous. Why do we put up with this? Why do we put up with people openly carrying assault rifles into places where we shop and do business like at Kroger's stores? What could possibly go wrong? Check this out to find out. And it's not even Halloween yet. Here's the question. How do we know the difference between a supposed "law abiding" gun carrier with an assault rifle and someone who means harm? The answer. We don't. This insistence by the gun rights extremists, who represent a subset of gun owners, can only be a bad thing for those who just want to have their guns for hunting, recreation and maybe for self defense at home. They do not represent the majority of gun owners who agree with common sense when it comes to gun safety reform. 

And then there's this in Rochester, Minnesota. A man who insists on carrying his loaded gun, only partially concealed, to the edge of a school zone, has set off a controversy with neighbors and parents. This is about what kind of communities we want for our children. Most people do not want people with loaded guns around school zones. There is no reason for this to happen. But some who represent a subset of gun owners, insist on forcing their loaded guns in places where others gather claiming it's all for protection. Having a gun in the home for self defense is one thing. But purposely carrying near a school zone and pushing the limits is another. This story is about rights vs. rights. We need to decide, as do our elected leaders, what is the right thing for the overall public safety of the majority. There is enough evidence that carrying a loaded gun around can be potentially and actually harmful for us to understand that something unexpected can happen with a loaded gun. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill another human being.

This "Gun Fail" blog by David Waldman at Daily Kos is keeping track of how often "law abiding" gun owners have problems with their guns. It's not funny. This is serious business. He is not making these things up-he actually provides links to the actual articles about the actual incidents. Let's check it out:
Anyway, here's a quick and dirty run-down on the numbers in our most-frequently reported categories. From around mid-August to early September, we saw 11 "home invasion" shootings, that is, where someone has accidentally fired into their neighbors' home or property, not counting two additional instances of firing into a neighboring hotel room. There were also 11 target shooting accidents of various kinds, five hunting accidents, five accidents while cleaning still-loaded guns, six various FAILs involving law enforcement or security officers, three shootings of people mistaken for intruders, two accidental shootings arising from attempted interventions in ongoing attacks or robberies, three accidental discharges while out shopping or dining in public, and the first accidental discharge in the classroom of the still-young school year.
The really alarming numbers, though, were among those who accidentally shot themselves (33), those who accidentally shot a family member or significant other (11), and kids who were accidentally shot (29). Among all the carnage, 17 of the 100 incidents on the list resulted in fatalities.
The thing is, this is what's actually happening in our country. Loaded guns are a risk to us all. These should be enough to make our hair stand up. So to those who want to "open carry", your claims of being perfectly safe with your guns in public are not necessarily true. The public is not buying it and your antics are not helping any of us feel safer.

We live in a country where private sellers sell guns to people who shouldn't have them. This couple had a bad feeling about a person to whom they sold a gun. Never mind. They wanted to make some money so they sold the gun anyway. It was perfectly legal because we allow this in our country. Crazy, right? From the article:
It turned out their instincts were right — John Christian Parks had an eight-felony-long rap sheet, for meth dealing and escaping from jail, and was developing paranoid, white-supremacist views. Still, the couple, who did not know who Parks was, sold him the gun for cash and later also sold him a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle — the same type of gun used in the Sandy Hook massacre.
“We had a bad feeling about it,” the wife told me this week. “But my husband and I are not criminals. We just sold him the gun. We didn’t do anything wrong.”
I am not naming this couple because she is right — it’s currently perfectly legal in our society to sell your assault rifle to another adult, no matter how sketchy, out behind a gas station. The law says you can’t knowingly sell to someone barred from owning a gun. But in our state, when it comes to guns, ignorance is often bliss.
“You aren’t required to require anything, depending on what you know. I require cash,” was how one private gun salesman summed up this state’s Wild West gun-selling rules at the Northwest Firearms online forum. (...) The assault rifles the couple sold to Parks later turned up in the woods in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. There, Parks and some friends, including one with a warrant out for his arrest, had gathered with two truckloads of semi-automatics to shoot at exploding targets. Parks was convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun and sentenced to eight years in prison.
He had also bought a third semi-automatic rifle from an online gun market, Gunbroker.com. The FBI found emails that Parks sent to the online seller, such as this one:
“May Yahweh protect you ... from foreign and DOMESTIC enemies that are trying every day to dismantle the constitution and the republic to bring a communist socialist dictatorship where the American is the enemy and the sheep to be lead to the Gulag FEMA camps to have a fate as much of our Russian kinfolk did in the 20th century under the Bolshevik Revolution I.E. Jewish Zionist revolution = TORTURE and DEATH! Hail VICTORY!”
Sure, you can have a gun.
At the end of Parks’ case, the judge, Thomas Zilly, said that above all else it showed “how easy it is for anyone to buy firearms online or on the street.”
The article was written in favor of Initiative 594 in Washington State that would require background checks on all gun sales. The citizens of Washington have decided to take common sense to the public rather than to rely on their state legislators because like in Washington, we know that our lawmakers are not representing the views of the majority of their citizens. They are in the pockets of the corporate gun lobby.

So the big question here is- Is this the America we want or deserve? We can decide this together and make us all safer from gun injuries and deaths. The fact that we haven't done so already speaks volumes about the American gun culture of fear and paranoia foisted on us by the corporate gun lobby. It's time for that to change. There are better ideas for public safety that need to be embraced by our elected leaders. But they are still living in the dark when it comes to public safety. It's time to shed light on the lack of courage of our leaders and the outsized influence of a gun lobby that represents a small minority of voters. Let's get to work. Surely we are better than this.

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