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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Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 starts out with a bang

It looks like 2015 will be no different from the past 30 years or so. Shootings happen every day and some get more attention than others. If all of the 80 shooting incidents ( homicides, suicides and accidental discharges) got the attention the mass shootings or other high profile shootings got, I believe we would be doing something differently today. The fact that we have done nothing different since the Brady background check bill was enacted in 1994 and the Assault Weapons Ban was allowed to lapse in 2004 says something very important about us. Or I should say it says something important about the lack of courage of our elected leaders to take on the corporate gun lobby. Remember now that this group of Americans represents a small minority of Americans and a small minority of gun owners and even of the NRA. 75% of NRA members think background checks on all gun sales would be good. 92% of Americans also think so. 

But I've said this many times before. So will drawing attention to the folly of our gun laws make our lawmakers sit up and take notice? One could hope. The gun violence prevention movement is stronger than ever going into 2015 and the gun lobby understands this. But isn't it interesting that they cling to their old and tired message that more guns make us safer and the good guys with guns will take care of the bad guys with guns? These are ridiculous statements on the face of it. Challenging them is the most important message for gun safety reform groups. The latest shooting death of a young mother in an Idaho Walmart by her 2 year old son after he found her concealed gun in her purse has legs. It's being written and talked about everywhere. The NRA and/or corporate gun lobby is making excuses again after the tragic shooting of a mother by her 2 year old child:
“As the leading firearm safety organization in the world we are heartbroken when tragic accidents occur,” Jennifer Baker, the NRA’s director of public affairs, told the Guardian. “No other organization does more to teach safe and responsible use of firearms than the NRA.
“The NRA teaches people how to prevent tragic accidents from happening and has been successful in saving lives, while, the anti-gun groups like those funded by billionaire [former New York mayor] Michael Bloomberg exploit tragedy to push legislation that infringes on law-abiding citizens’ right to self-protection.”
First of all, "anti-gun groups"? No. Not true. We are anti gun violence. We are not pushing legislation that will infringe on gun rights. That is just nonsense. At some level I believe the NRA even knows this. But they continue their nonsensical statements in the face of tragedies.

I like the statement of the Brady Center better regarding this tragedy:
Many parents bring a gun into the home legally with no intent of doing harm. Many think they’re doing their family a service by offering protection. Yet these guns cause the majority of gun deaths and injuries. Tragedies could be avoided if parents would only take simple steps to ensure that these guns are not accessible to their children. If we don’t start doing something about children’s access to guns, not only are these tragedies likely to continue, so will the hundreds of suicides and unintentional shootings that take place in homes across the country each year.
A gun in the home is a significant risk factor for homicide, suicide, and unintentional shootings, according to the Brady Center’s recent report “The Truth About Kids and Guns,” which shows that one out of three homes with children has guns, many left unlocked or loaded.
Brady’s report states that in Idaho, the estimated percent of loaded and unlocked household firearms among adults with a child under 18 is 5.2 percent. The report adds that in Idaho, the estimated number of children (0-17) living with unlocked and loaded firearms is 17,030.
Instead of protecting the family, studies show a firearm is much more likely to harm a family member, such as a child or teen, than to help.
This tragedy in Idaho is a reminder to all parents to keep guns locked away securely. It is also a reminder for parents to raise concerns and awareness about the dangers of unsafe access to firearms with friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. We can all help ensure that children do not come across an unsecured gun by asking, “Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?” Our collective efforts with parents across the United States can help prevent future tragedies.
Was this mother irresponsible? Maybe not. But guns are dangerous. They are designed to kill others. Well intentioned people may think guns will serve as self defense but guns are rarely used in justifiable self defense. More often they are used to kill a loved one intentionally or accidentally. This article explores the Idaho case. If you make a choice to carry a loaded gun wherever you go, you should expect the possibility that something could happen with that gun.

In Idaho no training courses are required to carry a loaded gun in public.

And the tragedies continue. Here are just a few. As is typical for America, someone decided to use his gun to take care of some sort of slight or express his anger. And a gun does that really well as my family knows. So this one happened, again, in Texas when a young man was so upset about something that he drove 1000 miles from Florida to shoot a few people. What is the matter with us? No one deserves to die like this. But guns make it all so easy.

A small town Georgia police chief shot and critically wounded his wife on New Year's Day. He claims it was an accident but there is an investigation. Police officers take their service guns home. Sometimes this is a very bad idea. This is not the first time a service gun has been used in a shooting in the home of a law enforcement officer.

Sigh.

In Minnesota the new year did start out with a bang when an apparent domestic shooting happened in a suburban town.

Ah yes, and then there are the celebratory gunfire incidents that happen every year on New Year's Eve in spite of the fact that any idiot knows that what goes up must come down. Here's just one in Atlanta where a woman who was in bed was hit by a bullet that went through the roof above and through her ceiling, injuring her. My friend Joe Jaskolka has a press conference every New Year's Eve to remind people that they could end up in his state if people are not more careful with irresponsible celebrating with guns and bullets.

And this is right out of the movies. In Texas again a crime spree left 2 dead in North Carolina and finished in Texas with the shooting injury of 2 law enforcement officers. From the article:
The father-son crime wave “is something you see in the movies. It’s unreal,” Sheriff Brindell Wilkins of North Carolina’s Granville County told Raleigh’s WRAL television.
Wilkins said the Campbells were driving a stolen SUV and allegedly broke into the home of Jerome Faulkner, 73, and his wife, Dora, 62, near Oak Hill, North Carolina, about 7 a.m. on Thursday.
The pair set the house on fire, killed the couple and loaded the bodies into the Faulkner’s red pickup before driving off in both vehicles to West Virginia, Wilkins said.
West Virginia State Police said in a statement that two Lewisburg police officers noticed the SUV with stolen North Carolina plates and pulled it over on Interstate 64.
The truck stopped as well and its driver, Edward Campbell, opened fire on the officers with a pistol, striking both, police said. One officer returned fire and wounded Campbell in the leg, the statement said.
Good grief. What is going on?

The problem with the NRA's talking point is that, given reality, they don't work. Not all people go to training to learn to use their guns safely. In fact, many if not most, walk out of the gun store or away from a private seller knowing nothing about guns or gun safety. It is not required. It is suggested by the gun lobby but they really don't want it to happen because if people figure out how dangerous guns actually are to themselves and their families, they may not buy guns and that would mess with the profits of the gun industry. Guns are a great risk to families and those who own them.

As I have said often on this blog, Americans have a pretty cavalier attitudes towards guns. It is this culture that actually causes many of our gun deaths and injuries. The death of the young mother was no exception. An article I found agrees with this assessment.

In 2015 we will continue to shed light on who the NRA represents. This article is a great review about the NRA, who they are and how they are contributing to our national epidemic of gun violence.

The Texas Open Carry movement will surely continue until the gun extremists get their way. But do they go too far? Read this article and decide for yourself.

The corporate gun lobby lost when a new director of the ATF was approved by the Senate in 2013. Todd Jones will change things and already is doing so. An article about new crime gun tracing centers in several places in the country shows that having a director of this important agency is really a good idea. Why in the world would the corporate gun lobby not want law enforcement agencies to know where crime guns originate? Well, what if we found out that the guns were mostly stolen from homes or were purchased from private sellers or came from straw purchasing? Would that lead to common sense laws to stop or prevent these sources of crime guns? And would that be a bad thing? Apparently so for the gun lobby whose main purpose is to sell guns no matter what.

The thing is, the NRA and others in the corporate gun lobby are working against themselves. They claim that Americans need guns to protect themselves from all of the criminals with guns. But if all of the criminals are stopped from getting guns, what is the message from the gun lobby? From whom will people need protection then? I'm just asking.

There are several disturbing trends that we have to hope will be outliers. One is that the number of shootings of officers rose 56% in 2014.

The TSA screens people for all kinds of dangerous things before they board planes. But seriously everybody- why in the world does a person try to bring guns, grenades ( yes I said grenades) and ammunition on board planes? I will watch this one to see if anything changes in 2015. I have my doubts.

The trend in shooting deaths is upwards. The trend in the number of people who own many guns is up. The trend in hatred of government and law enforcement amongst certain Americans is up. The trend in untreated mentally ill people is up. The trend in gun trafficking is up.

There are some serious problems to address in our country. But we are seemingly denying that there is a problem or just deciding not to deal with it. It's hard stuff to examine problems like these. But if we are to protect everyone from devastating gun violence, it has to be done. So let's get to work and change the conversation about the role of guns and gun violence in America and common sense solutions.

3 comments:

  1. So instead of approaching "violence control" by trying to prohibit firearms, why not pursue true safety goals?
    MADD didn't try to regulate alcohol, or require people to get background checks before buying a car to keep those people with DUI's, or other untrustworthy drivers off the road. No, they went the path of public education and tougher penalties for breaking laws.

    Instead what we get from today's gun-control groups is a constant drum-beat to make everything an "US VS THEM", with the NRA or NSSF as the bad-guys. Both the NRA have successful gun safety and child education programs. The NSSF has itself handed out 10's of millions of safety locks. How many has Michael Bloombergs millions handed out thru his Moms Demand/Everytown/MayorsAgainstIlegalGuns handed out, or promoted? Instead of trying to PARTNER with organizations that have been in the safety business for generations, they instead attempt to slander them. After Newton, the NSSF tried to work on strengthening straw-purchase laws (where most criminals get their guns) and fixing the current NCIS system. But they were ignored.

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    1. You must have forgotten that everyone who drives must have a license to drive. They can lose that license for driving while drunk, too many traffic infractions, causing accidents, failure to pay child support and a number of other reasons. Cars are registered so when they are transferred to a new owner, there is a record of the sale. Law enforcement can look up license plates and registration to see who owns a car or who is driving.
      The NSSF opposed background checks as did the NRA. There is no reason for law abiding people to fear background checks. They are done in states that require them on all sales quite easily without a fuss. The corporate gun lobby opposes anything that would stop people who shouldn't have guns from buying them.Straw purchasing is opposed by most everyone. Background checks are supported by most everyone. I know the NSSF opposes straw purchasing. They don't support background checks on all sales. 40% of gun sales go without background checks. They need to support this one as well. If the gun lobby doesn't want to set things up so it's "us versus them" they need to stop opposing laws that the majority of even their own members support. The NRA and other groups may have gun safety programs but those have not stopped some of the people who took the courses from shooting someone apparently. Gun safety groups have also been involved in handing out trigger locks. We partner with groups who are sincerely interested in saving the most lives. We would be happy to partner with the NSSF and NRA on a background check bill that would prevent people who shouldn't have guns from getting them. That would be a great moment in American history. Perhaps the NSSF would like to partner with the Brady Center's campaign to stop "bad apple gun dealers". We would welcome the support. http://www.bradycampaign.org/our-impact/campaigns/stop-bad-apple-gun-dealers

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  2. Actually, the NRA has become much more of a political activist organization recently. I started shooting, through a club, about 7 years ago. There is limited online guidance for beginners in the UK (our NRA is wholly committed to target shooting with rifles and not much else) so I turned to the US NRA site to supplement what I was taught at the club.. At the time (2008) their firearms safety and handling information was easily viewed from their home page and was pretty helpful.

    Not any longer, basically, when you find their training, it is Eddie the Eagle (for kids) and directions to NRA accredited trainers - minimal online guidance for adults on either safety or technique - not even Cooper's '4 Rules' so, if you haven't the time, inclination or money to attend a training course you will learn very little. Their training and courses are, if not hidden away, certainly not the first thing you encounter but rather something for someone who has already decided FOR THEMSELVES that they need to improve their skills. The NRA no longer regards itself as a primary source to enhance safe gun handling and improve skills. Rather that is a secondary concern compared to drawing site visitors towards their political objectives and advertising.

    I shoot, on a regular basis, in a club and occasionally over fields (game). All firearms are locked away and my children have been thoroughly drilled on how to behave when around firearms. It demystifies the subject and they come to the range with me maybe 2-3 times a year. I don't know if it is connected but even my son has no real interest in computer first person shooter type games.

    I suspect the NRA now deliberately avoids flagging ANY potentially negative aspect of firearms, even to the extent of downplaying their own advice on becoming a safer and better marksman.

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