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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Political agendas, gun laws and gun lobby influence

As I am listening to the speech Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making to Congress I keep thinking about how political agendas of all kinds get in the way of progress towards peace, public safety, sensitive arms negotiations and international relations. Most civilized democratized countries want peace and public safety. Some have been more vocal, more concerned and more committed than others. Since my concern here is gun safety I want to address that, in particular, in the context of political agendas. We can have differences of opinion about Netanyahu's speech but it's widely recognized that his coming to Congress was politically motivated. We can have differences of opinion about the role of guns in our society but it is widely accepted that we need background checks on all gun sales to save some of the lives lost to firearms injuries. And in America the issue of gun safety is based almost solely on political motivations and influenced by outside private interest groups rather than on actual public safety as it is in most other democratized countries not at war. But let's say that we do, collectively, care about public health and safety. Now how do we come together to make it happen without the politics?

I don't think any American public leader or any gun lobby leader or NRA member, for that matter, want citizens to lose their lives to gunshot injuries. But over and over they have rejected proposals to stop the senseless loss of life. In fact, in states all over American and now in Congress, attempts are being made to loosen gun laws that would make it easier for those who shouldn't have guns to get them. Proposed laws would allow those with no permits, no background checks and no training to buy and carry guns. That means felons, domestic abusers and adjudicated mentally ill people with guns.

I really like how this Ohio gun safety reform advocate writes about the laws pushed by the gun lobby:
Let's say your neighbor Bob wants a gun or applies for a concealed weapons license. He has to pass a background check before he can get either. Everything checks out, so now he's a "good guy with a gun." One day, Bob commits a crime. Previously, since Bob now has a record, he can't buy more guns. However, under the new law, his concealed weapons license allows him to bypass that background check, allowing him to buy more dangerous weapons. It seems some of our lawmakers forgot that every "bad guy" was once a "good guy."
It's time that we all start taking responsibility for the presence of gun violence in our society. Studies show this public health risk doesn't discriminate. Gun violence is not just limited to urban areas. In fact, gun violence is increasing across the country, while decreasing in cities. It doesn't stop with the horrific shootings in our schools. Even one school shooting is too many, but the truth remains that kids are more at risk from gun violence at home than in school. We are facing a systemic problem that at times seems overwhelming.
What do we do when lawmakers pass a bill like HB 234 while people continue to die from gun violence? It would be easy to throw up our hands, surrender, and accept this is "just the world that we live in." But we are not raising the white flag.
The solution lies in personal conversations to create culture change. We can't be afraid to talk about gun violence. Families should talk to kids about the dangers of guns and ask "is there a weapon where my child plays?" School boards should look beyond fear tactics and vote no on proposals to arm teachers. Businesses should feel empowered to create weapon free zones on their premises. We can change the culture of fear, one person at a time.
Anyone can have a moment of anger, despair, depression, conflict over money or a relationship and suddenly a law abiding friend or relative can become a "bad guy" with a gun. It happens all the time. I know that from personal experience.

The politics of guns keep our leaders from doing what they must know is right for public safety. The gun lobby plain and simply does not like any regulations on guns. Maybe if their own Uncle Rob shot someone in a moment of anger, they would think about it twice. Maybe if cousin Tom shot himself in a moment of despair with a gun left out by Uncle Rob, they would think twice. Maybe if cousins Sheila and Brian left their loaded gun in a closet and their 4 year old found it and shot his sister, they would think twice about our national epidemic of gun violence. Why can't they think this way when the rest of us suffer the loss of loved ones to bullets every day in large numbers? No empathy? Lack of understanding that a few simple measures could save lives? Lack of information about the seriousness of the effect of gun deaths and injuries? Denial that the problem exists? Fear of the gun lobby? Being willing to be lapdogs for a powerful political lobby instead of the actual people they represent? See the video below for lapdogs for the gun lobby:

Isn't this all cynical and disturbing? The awful thing is it happens to be true. Public safety means saving lives and passing laws to do so. It happens with cars, cigarette smoking, children's toys, pet food, etc. Why not with guns? Good question. Because the gun lobby...... Back to gun regulations- if regulations are removed for buying and carrying guns and just anyone can buy and carry guns, that will be the result. And then the gun lobby can say that people should be afraid of the felons and domestic abusers with guns that their laws have allowed- because fear and paranoia..... More people will flock to stores to buy guns because the bottom line is a boost to gun sales and getting re-elected in spite of or maybe because of the gun lobby. Follow the money.

That brings me to what's happening in many states as the result of the gun lobby's lapdogs. As expected, the gun extremists are pushing their agenda again in the Minnesota House of Representatives. This Washington Post article highlights what's going on in the states. They must not have known about what's going on in Minnesota. But I digress. From the article:
These victories have been hard-wrung. “Even if a majority of the legislature or the governor might be in favor of concealed-carry laws, it’s generally agreed that having some sort of training or background check is really important,” said Brian Malte, the national policy director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
But in 2014, Republicans took control of nearly a dozen state chambers, allowing permitless concealed-carry efforts to resurge in places like New Hampshire, West Virginia and Maine.The American public has recently been tilting toward gun rights; a Pew poll last month showed guns rights supporters pulling ahead of gun control supporters 52 to 46.
But Americans also want background checks, which permitless concealed-carry laws could do away with. A Quinnipac poll last year also showed that an overwhelming majority of voters, both Democrat and Republican, support background checks for all gun purchases. A similar majority would also bar people suffering from mental illness from purchasing guns.
Gun control advocates say that about 18 states are looking at permitless carry laws this year, depending on how you count. Here is a roundup of the more prominent bills: 
These states have ceded their responsibility to keep their citizens safe from firearms injuries and deaths to the corporate gun lobby- New Hampshire, West Virginia, Maine, Kansas, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, and Indiana. Others have already allowed people to carry guns with no permit, training or background checks- Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Wyoming and Vermont. So there we have it. Moving right along.....

Here is what the Minnesota House bill for a right to bear arms constitutional amendment sponsors want. In Minnesota a constitutional amendment requires a majority of both houses to approve to place a proposed change on the ballot. The voters need to approve with a majority of voters. In recent history, an amendment to ban gay marriage and voter ID failed in 2012. Usually voters can smell hypocrisy and extremism better than their elected leaders. Washington state voters approved of a law to require background checks on all gun sales when their elected leaders refused to vote for public safety. Elected leaders are subject to attacks by the gun lobby and are often afraid of their most vocal voters. But they have been fooled into believing that those voters represent the majority of us. The majority of voters cannot be so intimidated and are most often not fooled. As I write often on this blog, the American public, and even in Minnesota, most gun owners, NRA members and the general public understand that strengthening gun laws won't interfere with their rights to own guns and hunt.

So the hypocrisy of legislators who signed on to this Minnesota bill to restrict any common sense gun restrictions is cynical and dangerous. Let's take a look (from above link):
An amendment to the Minnesota Constitution is proposed to the people. If the amendment is adopted, a section shall be added to article I, to read:
Sec. 18. The right of individuals to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms, including firearms, knives, other weapons as well as ammunition, components, and accessories for any of them, for defense of life, liberty, self, family, and others, sanctity of dwelling, and for all other purposes, is fundamental and shall not be denied, infringed, or curtailed. Any restriction must be subjected to strict scrutiny. 
Registration, mandatory licensing, special taxation, fees, or any other measure, regardless of type, manner, or purpose, that suppresses or discourages the free exercise of this right, is void.
Void. What does that really mean? Have they shared the specifics about which gun laws would be voided under this proposal? Do they dare mention that this would likely mean that more felons, domestic abusers and others who shouldn't be able to buy and carry guns will get to do so? It means that these folks are disregarding public safety in favor of being lapdogs to the corporate gun lobby. Background checks are a very good idea for obvious reasons. We can't just let anybody buy guns. But background checks have not trumped gun rights since the Brady background check law was enacted in 1994. They have not violated law abiding citizens' rights to own a gun. From the linked piece, above:
To be truly effective, we must have a federally mandated universal background check so that criminals cannot go to neighboring states with weaker laws. Change more often starts locally and spreads outward and upward. We must start somewhere if we want to decrease the number of deaths by firearms in this country. The Oak Park referendum is one step in the process.  One thing we can be sure of is that if we do nothing then nothing will get better. That, to me, is unacceptable.
"If we do nothing, then nothing will get better. " We need things to get better. But I digress. Back to the insidious Minnesota proposal...

What was I saying? Oh yes, the language of the Minnesota bill includes strict scrutiny. What? To make it will become more difficult to save lives with laws that would stop dangerous people from owning and carrying guns? Sounds like a bad idea to me. Because the gun lobby.....

So to review-this Minnesota bill would in essence allow felons, domestic abusers, those adjudicated mentally ill and others to now be able to buy and carry guns with apparently no or few regulations and then when new laws to stop them are proposed, they would have to pass strict scrutiny. I wonder if the co-sponsors of the bill thought that that same standard could be applied to their intent to weaken gun laws? But I digress. The legislators whose names appear on this insidious bill must know better. Questions should be asked of them and answers should be forthcoming. And don't let them say this is what their constituents want. That would be a lie. It is what the gun lobby and a small minority of vocal constituents want. Common sense doesn't matter- only strict scrutiny.

Last year some common sense broke out when the Minnesota legislature voted to make sure domestic abusers subject to restraining orders and orders for protection should not have guns. This year, they are proposing the opposite. What happened? Oh yes, that's right- the House turned red in the last election so the extremists get to introduce bills that the gun lobby wants them to introduce.

The curious but predictable thing about making rights more important than responsibilities is that the gun lobby inconveniently leaves out the first part of the second amendment when pushing their extreme agenda- "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...." They only want the right to bear arms without the regulation part. And of course, willful denial that Justice Scalia, conservative Supreme Court Justice, famously said this after the Heller case ruling. From this article:
Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. [United States v.] Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.
Hmmmm. It behooves us all to watch and make sure that public safety comes before extreme positions that will weaken public safety laws.

Speaking of public safety, the annual report from the Minnesota BCA about conceal carry permits has been released. It's not really good news for the gun lobby. This report shows exactly why we need to regulate who can buy and carry guns, where they can carry and why we need to make sure those who do have proper training and background checks. The fact is that not all permit holders are "good guys with guns" as the corporate gun lobby wants us to believe. Check out the reasons gun permit carriers were denied or revoked in Minnesota:
Among permits that were denied, the most common reasons included:
Deemed a danger to self or others (322)
Barred by federal law (69)
Rights not restored after charge or conviction for crime of violence (64)
Convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence (32)
Convicted of drug crime other than marijuana (19)
Applicants could be denied for more than one reason, which is why there are more reasons than total denials.
I thought these folks were supposed to be law abiding gun carriers. And yet, we can see who applied for but was denied a permit to carry. What if we didn't have background checks or local law enforcement checking on these applicants? Would the gun lobby really love to have these kind of people carrying loaded guns in public? We should ask them. The gun lobby deceived the Minnesota legislature into believing something that couldn't possibly be true. If gun carriers are like non gun carriers, they will do things that are wrong and dangerous. Thus they shouldn't be able to carry or own a gun. Let's look at the crimes committed by these "law abiding" people:
In all, the state has about 181,000 permit holders -- who committed 1,320 crimes between them last year.
The most common of those were:
Traffic offenses (651)
Driving under the influence (155)
Weapons violations, including carrying without a permit (24)
Drug offenses (24)
A handful of gun-permit holders committed violent crimes, including:
Homicide (3)
Assault, including threats with a firearm (18)
Domestic assault (14)
In short, we are not all safer now. And these are people who have been trusted to carry loaded guns around in public. Now the legislature is considering a bill to let them carry with no permit, background check or training. And then comes the most important point at the end of the BCA report:
According to the report, there were no recorded instances last year of lawful and justifiable use of firearms by permit-holders -- for instance, a shooting in self-defense.
Ah- the hypocrisy. People who carry guns claim to need them for self defense in public. And yet- no one actually used a carried gun that way. Stunning. So then, given that a fair number of these folks have committed crimes and been denied for things like domestic assault, being a danger to themselves or others, etc. does the risk outweigh any benefit? I'm just asking.

Where are we? We are at a point when the far right and the extremists have taken over. They are trying to pass unreasonable laws that will make us even less safe than we are now. If it wasn't so serious it would laughable. I'm not laughing nor are the many victims and survivors of gun violence. This is serious business to be determined by serious people. The laws should not be written by a single interest influential lobby group whose main concern is selling weapons that kill people. Where is common sense?


  1. What about Bob? he has a permit and if he commits a felony it will be revoked so not only will he not be able to buy more guns he will no be able to keep the ones he has. Besides he already had a gun/guns right whats he going to do run out and buy more? for what? give them to a buddy? If he is going to use them in a bad way he already has enough. As far as permit holders "committing" crimes, how can you be a permit holder and carry without a permit (24). There were 35 violent crimes out of 181,000 permits, if my math is right that is .02% that is less than one percent of permit holders committing a violent crime. I will take those odds ANY day. Hmmm. I wonder if you would randomly choose 181,000 gun control proponents how they would compare with domestic assaults, threats, and homicides?

    1. " However, under the new law, his concealed weapons license allows him to bypass that background check, allowing him to buy more dangerous weapons." If no background checks are required for a gun sale, no one will check to see if that gun permit license Bob has is revoked or not. What are you saying about why does he need more guns? People can buy as many as they want and he could give them to a buddy. Many gun owners own many guns. If a permit holder is caught carrying without having their permit on their person, it is called carrying without a permit which is a crime. I am guessing that most "gun control proponents" would compare pretty favorably given that they don't believe domestic abusers should have guns and are working to stop shootings. That is a ridiculous argument, don't you think? You missed my point about comparing permit holders to the general public. I don't like the odds when someone is carrying a gun and committing one of the crimes listed.

    2. my point in the comparison is that I believe gun control proponents would maybe be a higher percentage of felonies/crime,ect because I believe those of us that carry understand that we are held to a higher standard.

    3. I don't believe for one minute that those who have permits to carry are held to a higher standard. How can that be true given that in an increasing number of states, no permits, training or background checks will be required for carrying a gun. That is taking us down to a point where anyone, no matter their criminal record, domestic abuse record, or mental health are and will be carrying guns in public. See Jared Loughner for example. If that is a higher standard, we should all be concerned. If you believe you are held to higher standard, you will need to explain efforts to remove all regulations for buying and carrying guns. I know a lot of "gun control proponents" all over this country. They are very law abiding individuals and I don't know one who has committed a felony or a crime. There may be someone like that but my guess is it would be pretty rare. I do know of some "law abiding" gun owners, however, not "gun control proponents" who have committed heinous crimes. One killed my sister.

  2. Jared Loughner was bats^#* crazy Google his name and look at his mug shot. I am all for keeping guns away from the Jared Loughners of the world, so is every other legitimate gun owner, we should not even be using there names, it gives notoriety that they were looking for.
    I don't know the circumstances of your sisters husband/ex-husband, what his background was. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and that sucks. Sorry for your loss.

    1. Thanks for supporting the no notoriety of shooters. Arizona law allows people to carry a gun with no permit or no background check. http://smartgunlaws.org/concealed-weapons-permitting-in-arizona/
      Here is more about the shooter's ability to buy a gun in Arizona in spite of some fairly serious mental illness- http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/0110/Why-Jared-Loughner-was-allowed-to-buy-a-gun

      He passed a background check and could carry without a permit. Strengthening laws and allowing for more discretion of LE in issuing permits rather than not requiring permits at all or any training could stop some people like this. He was, for all intents and purposes, a "law abiding" gun owner- not a "gun control proponent". Perhaps since we are on this thread, you could provide me with something about "gun control proponents" committing crimes. There may be some but it would be hard to know who is one according to your definition. As it turns out 92% of Americans appear to be "gun control proponents" since they favor background checks on all gun sales so you might be able to find somebody given that large group of people.

  3. "gun control proponent" is just as ambiguous as "law abiding" I am for background checks as you may remember, but far, very far from a gun control proponent. I have no facts to back up was just wondering out loud about crimes committed by people who don't believe in the right to carry a firearm for protection.

    1. Thanks. I was also "hearing" your thinking out loud and responding.