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.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gun bullies and trolls- offensive language alert

This post has been edited since first posted.

For my readers- the language used in the quotes I provide here is not my own but from those who wrote them. I did not provide names of the commenters.

This classic political quote, made famous in the 1800s and sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, is apt: ""No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session”". Legislatures are in session. The corporate gun lobby is busy introducing insane laws to weaken gun safety and increase their own members and sales of guns. And gun bullies are showing up all over the country to intimidate reasonable people who just want laws to keep us safer from gun violence. And the legislators themselves? Bullied. Either that or complicit. What happened to civility? When it comes to guns, there is little of it. The thing is, many of the bullies are armed. Read more.

A story from a mom in Vermont highlights the treatment she and her young daughters received when they went to the state house to testify in favor of a gun safety reform bill:
We arrived at a Statehouse packed with people in hunting orange. People were being sent to overflow rooms to listen to testimony. My daughter and her friend donned some fresh GunSense T-shirts and asked if they could go up to one of the balconies to find a place to squeeze in and watch. I told them where we would be and let them go. A few minutes later they returned, looking stricken. It turned out that someone in hunter orange had walked by these two 10-year-old girls and made the comment, “Nice shirts, girls. Hope they’re bulletproof.” 
Hope they’re bulletproof. 
I wish I could say that the bullying ended there, but it didn’t. I was told that I should be tried for treason, which I was able to simply laugh off. Not so laughable was the experience of a survivor of domestic violence who testified in favor of the bill. When she returned to her seat, a man dressed in orange seated behind her gave her the two-fingered “I’m watching you” sign. A woman who spied my daughter and her friend in their green T-shirts brushed by me and muttered, “Those poor kids.”
Now I know that not everyone there who opposed the bill would make nasty or menacing remarks to two children, or anyone for that matter. There are opponents, I trust, who are thoughtful, who talk to their children the way we talk to ours. There must be people who are compassionate, who respond to someone’s story of losing a loved one to gun violence with something other than laughter and derision. But I didn’t see or hear them at the hearing. These are the people that need to speak up and come to the table, people who can see that Vermont is not an island, that we face the same problems faced by the people of Newtown, Connecticut, and Aurora, Colorado, and Marysville, Washington, and Santa Monica, California. And short of reasoned people coming to the table, we must beseech our lawmakers to recognize that, while Vermont is often touted as one of the safest states in the nation, it is unlikely to remain so without action. 
Yes. This is what we get for speaking up for common sense.

The Communications Director for the Brady Campaign reported a gun bully who was actually a dangerous extremist, to the FBI. The man is sitting in jail now facing some serious charges for his threatening tweets. Numerous articles have been written about the threats made and the arrest that followed. Here is one from National Public Radio:
It can be risky to engage with trolls, particularly potentially violent ones. But with the Internet awash in hostile statements by anonymous people on social media, law enforcement around the country still relies largely on actual people, not software, to detect threats.
Which is just what Hutson did: He called the FBI. It took the report, but Hutson had the feeling that the agent on duty didn't really "get" Twitter. So Hutson kept at it himself, trying to figure out the tweeter's location.
At this point, you should know that Hutson is a former reporter who now works as the chief communications officer for the Brady Campaign, the anti-gun-violence group based in Washington, D.C. So he knows something about digging for information — and organizing that information in a way that will get people's attention.
In this case, a young man who owned guns and had anti-Semitic feelings, appeared to have serious thoughts of shooting Jews and/or children. From the Southern Poverty Law Center about the threats:
In a YouTube video three years ago, the suspect, believed to have used the name “David Dave,” brandished a .32-caliber Caltech semi-automatic handgun and said that he used it for concealed carry.
FBI agents and local law enforcement agencies in Montana, Oregon and Michigan were able to track and ultimately locate the suspect because of the work of Jonathan Hutson, the chief spokesman for the Brady Campaign.
“Of all the people on Twitter with whom this white supremacist chose to tangle, he picked me,” Hutson told Hatewatch today. “I just happen to be a spokesman for the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence and I have a background as an investigative journalist.”
Hutson has 53,000 followers on his Twitter account. Lenio, using the handle @PyschicDogTalk, responded after Hutson posted a Twitter message about double killings at a free-speech event and a synagogue on Saturday in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Since last Thursday, Hutson learned, the Holocaust-denying Lenio has tweeted comments saying he wants to execute 30 or more “grade school students” and “shoot up a school” and a synagogue, and put “two in the head” of a rabbi or Jewish leader. He also said he hoped to go on a killing rampage until “cops take me out.”
Wait what? He was a law abiding concealed carry permit holder? I thought they never did anything wrong and were perfectly law abiding people. Just trust them with their guns in public. But I digress.

In Texas, open carry advocates have threatened law makers who are considering a bill that will allow them all to carry any gun they want anywhere. Aside from the obvious reasons why this is a bad idea, here is a major concern that cannot be ignored. More than a few of these guys are prohibited gun purchasers and carriers, by Texas law. But they want to carry loaded guns around in public anyway. Legislators do actually believe that open carriers need to have a license to carry their guns in public which means they can't have a class B misdemeanor or worse. So here's the rub ( from the article):
CJ Grisham, founder of Open Carry Texas, and Kory Watkins, leader of Open Carry Tarrant County, have arrests on Class B misdemeanor charges of interfering with the public duties of a peace officer, reported the Houston Chronicle. (...) Watkins said he would never “ask for permission” to carry a weapon by applying for a license, and Grisham said the only people who should lose gun rights are those who “abuse those rights.”  
Grisham was arrested during a hike with his son while carrying an AR-15 and is appealing his conviction for interfering with law enforcement officers’ duties.  
Watkins and two other open carry activists were arrested in September while videotaping Arlington police officers with the Cop Watch group, and he’s due to appear in court next month.  
Both gun activists argue that requiring a license and fees to carry concealed weapons violates their Second Amendment rights.  
“We live in a constitutional republic and what that means is, it doesn’t matter what the other side says,” Watkins said. “I have a right to bear arms, and it shouldn’t be infringed upon.”  
Grisham said he would sue the state if lawmakers require a license to openly carry handguns, saying the requirement was unconstitutional.
And then, from the article, a Texas legislator accidentally or purposely spoke the truth of the matter:
However, the former state senator who wrote the Texas concealed carry law disagrees.
“I don’t think there’s a legitimate case for that,” said former lawmaker Jerry Patterson. “No right is absolute.” 
No right is absolute. Absolutely. These Texas activists are not alone in their faulty and insane ideas about what is constitutional and what is not. Apparently when it suits their purposes, they act within the constitution and the law. And when it doesn't fit with their agenda, the rest of us are trying to do something unconstitutional. The cynicism is rampant. They don't have to follow the rules or the laws already on the books. What could possibly go wrong?

Are these the good guys with guns that NRA spokesperson Wayne LaPierre claims will save us from the bad guys with guns? Just asking.....But remember that Wayne LaPierre also proclaimed that "the guys with the guns get to make the rules." See below:

I just love that little video clip and use it often on this blog. It explains everything doesn't it? The corporate gun lobby is busy trying to make the rules while encouraging their own not to follow them. The corporate gun lobby actually believes that "good guys" with guns will never do anything wrong with those guns. And yet, daily stories in various media sources show us otherwise. But never mind the facts. Make them up as you go. Here are a few recent shootings by "good guys" with guns that lend the lie to the gun lobby talking points:
And these are good guys with guns. How can they protect us from the bad guys with guns? They can't even protect themselves or their families from harm. Following the rules and safety practices seems to be optional for these folks. The trite old gun lobby talking points should be thrown in the trash bin of history and left to die a proper death. Pretty much most of the country knows these guys and their own rules are extreme and represent a minority viewpoint. But some lawmakers have been deceived. Follow the money. Lawmakers don't realize apparently that gun rights and gun safety are not mutually exclusive. And if they do realize it and support these extremists anyway, more cynicism and an a failing grade for them. Is there no shame? They are way behind their public on this issue. 92% of Americans know the truth and believe in common sense.

You may remember my own experience at the Minnesota state Capitol a few years ago when hearing rooms turned into armed camps. While sitting in a hearing about a bill to require background checks on more gun sales than are now occurring in the state, one of the gun bullies tweeted at me while in the same room and asked how I liked being surrounded by people with guns. This is the same guy who traveled 150 miles to a community discussion at my church with a friend who sported a small video camera on the side of his head. I recognized him immediately. He and his friend claimed they were interested in joining in the discussion. All they wanted was to find out what we were "up to". What are they so afraid of anyway? They're the ones with the guns.

Yesterday I went to the Minnesota state capitol for a lobby day. Some photos about our event, Every Life Matters, were posted on the Protect Minnesota event page. Immediately upon posting, we noticed racist and offensive comments mostly on photos of people of color. Here are the comments:
  • "criminal and gun grabber lives don't matter"
  • "What are you monkeys ooking and eeking about now?"
  • "Sheeeeeeeit. Does it cum wiff fryed chikn n sheeeeeeit?" ( their words, not mine)
  • "Hello Marxist"
  • "Gun-grabbing liberals spreading their insane lies and hate. gun control=victim disarmament=defenseless citizens=enabling criminals=aiding and abetting murderers"
  • "Take your Marxist gun control and get the fuck out of this country you stupid bitch."
I should say that some of these came from a Facebook page that appears to represent a group of hateful and conniving Americans. They have been noted as a white supremacist group of trolls who change their iteration but their intent is to take down other Facebook pages and intimidate people they don't like. Nice. If this is for attention, these folks do attract some attention. But it may not the be the attention they want in the end. The fear, paranoia and hatred is ramped up amongst themselves until it spills out for the rest of us to see. We do actually know who they are and monitor what they are doing. We block them which makes them angry because, well because. When will that hatred and anger spill over into the nation's next mass shooting or a shooting of an individual?

Another Facebook friend, active in gun safety reform, posted this comment put up on a gun violence prevention Facebook page recently:
"You are all a bunch of pussies, hell maybe youns' need to burn like 6 million Jews did, and watch your families and children be executed first. chicken shits. I can't stand idiots that live on false security."
Right then. Raise your hand if you think this is OK. If you are OK with this, don't send your comments my way.

Social media has allowed these comments and threats to spread. But it has also allowed us a view into their sick, racist, misogynistic, angry and insane world and exposes these folks for the ugly extremists they have become. Some need to be taken seriously because of possible real threats. There are home-grown terrorists- armed Americans ready to fight against their own government or people who don't look like them. As with the threats to attack the Mall of American issued by al Shabab, how do we know when to be worried about a real attack? We don't. But we know there are people who want to harm others. There are people and organizations with evil intent. They are trolls and bullies and they are using social media to further their evil and potentially dangerous agendas.

According to this site, there are different kinds of bullying. What I am talking about is verbal and cyber bullying. Here is a discussion of that kind of bullying:
Verbal bullying incorporates the use of words to carry out an act of bullying. In this type of bullying, the aggressor also known as the bully tries to verbally upset the victim through taunting and teasing. The verbal assault might focus on an individual’s appearance, lifestyle choices, intellect, skin color and even ethnicity. Most verbal bullies have a low self esteem and tend to bully others so as to increase their social standings and feel better about themselves. (...) This is one of the most popular types of bullying in the modern world. Cyber bullying can be described as any form of bullying that incorporates the use of technology. Cyber bullying is rampant on social networking sites and can be very difficult to know the real identity of a bully since most bullies do not use their real names....
Let's repeat this part:" Most verbal bullies have a low self esteem and tend to bully others so as to increase their social standings and feel better about themselves." That about sums it up.

There are numerous Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that make fun of and threaten gun safety reform advocates. Here is just one of many. Why are moms and women in particular who advocate for reasonable gun laws so threatening to these "good guys with guns"? Don't they have moms, sisters, daughters, wives, aunts and female cousins and friends? The question has to be asked and answered.

This is a side show and it's very purposeful. It distracts people from the main message that guns are dangerous and a risk to those who own them. Actually, it proves the message. In America, we make it easy for people who shouldn't have guns to get them anyway. And that means terrorists from abroad and right here at home. It also means gun extremists, gun trolls and gun bullies. If anyone thinks it's reassuring that the people who wrote those comments mentioned above have guns, let me know. Public safety is dependent upon us keeping some people with bad intentions from having guns. Guns are dangerous- designed to kill people. Why make it easy for people to purchase, steal, carry and transfer them given that we know this? Our laws should be strengthened rather than weakened. And that can be done without taking away rights, contrary to what the gun lobby would have you believe. Let's get to work. Every life matters.

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