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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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Why the guns for self defense argument just doesn't work or "This shot's for you"

(This post is cross-posted at commongunsense.wordpress.com.)

clip_art_beer_can
As my readers know, I write often about stupid and dangerous things that happen with guns- and often by "law abiding" gun owners. So here are just a few for your entertainment.
First- this article lists 5 incidents since 2010 where male gun carriers have shot their private parts. Seriously- I don't make this stuff up. From the article:
The Internet is abuzz this week with the unfortunate mishap of one security guard in Trinidad who accidentally shot his dick off with a .38 firearm. That sucks, but this isn’t the first time that a potential Darwin Award nominee robbed himself of manhood. At least five similar incidents have been reported in the United States within the last three years.
If these cases don’t sway macho man constitutionalists to support gun control, then I don’t know what.
The language is not mine but that of the writer of the article. But it's graphic enough. You can read the 5 incidents for yourself. There are quite a few others out there of guns falling out of pants pockets or being left in men's washrooms by "accident" because having a gun in a holster when "doing your business" just must be pretty inconvenient. Anyway, these things happen. Why do they happen? Are there just too many irresponsible gun owners carrying guns around who shouldn't be? Are we not letting people know how risky it is to carry a loaded gun around? The gun lobby makes it seem as if having that gun with you will save you or someone from certain death or being robbed, or whatever they can scare up. This is what happens when fear and paranoia drive the discussion about a serious national public health epidemic. For surely, these guys have had major health costs, physical disabilities and long term emotional difficulties after their shooting incidents.
Second, I want to illustrate how when a gun is at the ready, simple arguments between friends or relatives can turn ugly quickly. Guns and alcohol don't go together well as we have already discussed a lot on this blog. But when these 2 friends argued about whether a "Bud" or a Busch would be the beer of choice, one of them got shot. Seriously. I don't make this stuff up. From the article:
An argument between a 64-year-old man who wanted a Budweiser beer and his friend who handed him a can of Busch instead ended when the disgruntled recipient shot the other man in the arm, wounding him in a Louisiana parking lot, police said on Friday.
Budweiser, you may remember, put up that much loved and sort of sensitive "lost dog" commercial for the recent Super Bowl that seemed to be a pitch for fatherhood. The Busch website appeals more to those who "earn it" - a bit more of a macho appeal. Women, of course, also enjoy drinking beer, me among them. We live in a city with an emerging micro brewery industry so trying out new locally brewed beers on occasion is something we do with friends. I have yet to argue with anyone who gave me a beer I didn't like. And even if I did, I wouldn't end the argument with a gun because I don't carry one.  But I digress.
There has been a discussion on a Facebook page to which I belong about the beer shooting incident. Lots of great quips about the irony of the choice between a Budweiser or a Busch beer- "This shot's for you" was one. Here are a few others: "Stand your ground against bad beer." " Busch Beer. Head for the mountains. Just don't get ambushed by your Bud." You get the picture. How insane is this? It's so typically American to read a story about 2 guys in an argument over a beer getting out their guns to solve the dispute. And need I remind you that these are the "good guys with guns." You might appreciate this cartoon:
Your fly is open
From Mike Thompson ( http://www.freep.com/opinion/mike-thompson/)
Swaggering around with holstered guns in public is a pretty macho thing to do for some. Many say that carrying a gun is an extension of manhood. For most people it's just plain crazy as the cartoon above reflects.  As much as these guys want to make women feel a need for guns for self defense, the gun world is still a mostly male place. Deceiving women into believing they will be safer from rape and domestic abuse is dangerous but it is one way to get women to purchase guns. Owning a gun is an awesome responsibility that comes with major risks, especially for women.
And speaking of guys with guns , there is an attempt by the gun lobby to use women to promote their agenda of guns everywhere passed. But not so fast. Women who are in the process of being raped are just not going to be able to use that gun in the manner pushed by the gun lobby. Most recently the discussion about women and guns has turned to the problem of date rape on college campuses. Here's why this is a problem, according to this article:
We’re glad to see that people in legislature around the country are beginning to take this issue seriously and try to institute some reforms. Unfortunately the concept of introducing guns into this equation — the people who are suggesting that just don’t understand the issue. First of all, most of these assaults take place when they’re incapacitated. There’s no way they could use a gun. But even if they’re not completely incapacitated, they’re often drunk or have drank a lot. When you introduce a gun into that situation it becomes extremely dangerous. And the people being assaulted are often being assaulted by friends or acquaintances. It’s very unlikely someone is going to pull a gun in this situation. The end result will not address the problem, but it will result in substantially more injuries and death.
Check out what the NRA's own Wayne LaPierre has to say about rape and the need for guns on campus for women in the video below from the Tonightly Show on Comedy Central: ( the clip about guns on campus begins at 2:47 in the video. Fear, fear, fear and the shameless promotion of it to drive women to gun stores is just plain wrong.
This cynical and misogynistic view of guns and self defense is recognized as such by people with common sense such as this writer for Harvard University Institute of Politics:
Isn’t it refreshing to see a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference’s annual convention espousing female empowerment to loud applause?
In the case of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s speech last Friday, no, it is not. LaPierre, who said, “the one thing a violent rapist deserves to face is a good woman with a gun,” delivered an argument for women’s armed self defense that made a mockery not only of women’s rights, but also of conservative principles.
LaPierre was repeating a common trope among gun rights activists that easy gun access allows women to defend themselves against domestic violence. Never mind the various studies debunking this myth, including one showing states with higher gun ownership see more violence against women than states with lower gun ownership, even after accounting for confounding factors like urbanization and income. Even if it were true that guns kept women safer – or any of us, for that matter – his recommendation is offensively flawed on multiple levels.
First is the implication that it is the responsibility of the woman, not, say, the police, to defend herself from sexual assault. Interestingly, conservatives, the NRA included, used to oppose this kind of gun-toting vigilante justice. In the late 1960s, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the founders of the California-based Black Panthers, advocated individual gun ownership to allow blacks to defend themselves in a nation where police were reliably racist and racists were reliably violent. In response, California conservatives proposed a law banning loaded weapons from city streets. Then-governor Ronald Reagan supported the law, calling guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will,” and claiming that the law “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.” The NRA also supported this measure, as well as the gun-control measures passed at the national level in the ’60s.
Things have changed since the 1960s. Domestic shootings are a leading cause of death for women in the work place. Women are more likely to be killed by a gun by an intimate partner than to use a gun for legitimate self defense. In America, women are more likely to die from gunshot injuries than in any other democratized country and many mass shootings are the result of domestic disputes gone very wrongThis article from Slate explores the myth that women should have guns to prevent rapes: ( the article mentions a statement by a Nevada Assemblywoman, Michele Fiore about the need for guns to stop campus rape)
There is an odd kind of disconnect in the argument that allowing guns on college campuses will reduce rates of sexual violence. As the New York Times reported on Wednesday, several states have introduced measures to legalize firearms on campus. And many conservative lawmakers, perhaps spotting an opportunity in current debates about college sexual assault, have claimed that such a policy amounts to rape prevention.
Lawmakers in 10 states have introduced so-called campus carry bills, though some have made their claims about sexual assault and safety more explicit than others. As a sponsor of a Nevada bill allowing students to carry firearms, Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore told the Times, “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.” (...)
It remains unclear how much data, or, frankly, how many dead women, will be required before gun advocates accept this basic fact. In domestic violence incidents, a gun increases the risk of homicide by a staggering 500 percent. A 1998 study on women and self-defense found that for every time a woman used a handgun to kill an intimate partner in self-defense, 83 women were murdered with a handgun by their intimate partners. And data has consistently shown that the presence of a gun in the home is associated with a higher risk of homicide, suicide and accidental injury and death.
Fiore’s rhetoric in support of the measure also invokes the danger of stranger rape, despite the fact that most campus assaults don’t fit this scenario. But even if we narrow our focus to incidents of sexual violence that involve strangers in the night, given the data on how infrequently women successfully use a gun in self-defense, such a measure still offers very little in the way of safety for victims. Instead, by introducing guns into an ostensibly gun-free zone, Fiore is arming the very men she claims would be frightened by such a measure.
“If my rapist had a gun at school, I have no doubt I would be dead,” Lauren Gambill, one of the activists working with Know Your IX, wrote in a recent petition aimed at the politicians currently debating proposed campus carry bills. “That’s why I started this petition asking legislators in these states not to allow guns on campuses and put survivors like me in even more danger.”
A different petition from the two groups asks supporters to “tell lawmakers to apologize for blaming victims of sexual assault, and to stop exploiting campus sexual assault to push the gun lobby’s agenda.”
From what we know about the way sexual assault operates on college campuses, adding guns to the mix doesn’t make much sense. Most sexual violence between students takes place under the influence of alcohol among people who already know each other. It’s not clear that college women will actually feel comfortable wielding a firearm against one of their friends.
When the "guys with the guns" get to make the rules about guns and gun safety reform in America, the facts about women and children being killed by guns get lost or are denied. Let's look at the video, again, of the NRA's Wayne LaPierre making his claim about the Founding Fathers and guys with guns:
Most of the gun owners in America are guysMost of our politicians are guys. We need to take a new look at the role of guns and gun violence in our country from a different perspective than that of the corporate gun lobby. The Board of Directors of the NRA, for example, consists of these guys. Is there a coincidence between these glaring facts and the disdain exhibited by the mostly male dominated gun rights community towards organizations like Moms Demand Action for Gunsense, the Million Mom March/Brady Campaign Chapters and other organizations whose volunteers and leaders are mostly women? I think not. Rude, offensive and threatening comments are made daily towards the women in these groups. I have been on the receiving end of many of them. When we testify at hearings on gun bills, for example, we are called hysterical and fear mongering. We don't know what we are saying. Of course, it is often women who testify for common sense. And the mostly men on the other side presume that they know a lot more than we do and love to tell us so.
I am only reporting the facts and making some conclusions based on the facts and observations of reality. You can make your own but the evidence shows that arguments between 2 guys more often end in shootings. Domestic arguments most often end with a woman being injured or killed by men with guns. Women are typically not "accidentally" shooting themselves in the numbers that men do. Women are most often raped by men. But women are also, as I've pointed out, less safe with guns.
Arguments over a Bud or a Busch should not end with a gunshot. Carrying guns should not end with private parts being shot.

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