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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

There Is Common Ground On Guns If "Noise" Is Removed

Category: Guns
Posted: 10/09/15 15:52

by Dave Mindeman

When the discussion is about guns, it is frustrating to watch the distortions develop. Gun rights activists seem to have convinced their supporters that any, and I mean any, kind of gun restriction legislation is somehow a violation of basic rights.

The NRA and gun manufacturers tell us that they want guns out of the hands of the mentally ill....yet, they thwart attempts to enhance or shore up background checks. They sympathize with the victims of these mass shooting tragedies but offer no solutions. They criticize the enforcement of the gun laws we have, yet continue to work to weaken them and open up loopholes which make them meaningless.

We used to have an assault weapons ban. That expired and was never renewed. Waiting periods are slapped down. Mandatory gun safety classes are deemed too restrictive. The ability to hold gun manufacturers accountable via lawsuits was eliminated by Congress.

Gun ownership will always be a part of American rights. That is the simple fact. But Americans have a right to safety as well and the proliferation of weapons of deadly force is a danger to everyone. Common sense ideas should not be cast aside simply because they have guns in the title. Let's have an honest debate about what we can do. And let's also try to quit arguing in the extremes.

This is not about jack booted thugs kicking down your door and demanding your weapons. This is about stopping mentally ill people from using guns for attention or taking others with you in a suicide. This is about making it harder for gangs and criminals to use weapons indiscriminately. This is about making gun ownership more responsible and avoiding accidental shootings in the home.

It is common sense...not a violation of rights. Outdoor sports are not in danger....but at the same time, I would hope that gun sports persons would agree that purchases of military grade weapons does not meet any common sense standard.

The arguments against gun safety legislation move immediately to 2nd Amendment violations. The 2nd Amendment is safe. It is not being challenged. But a safe society is not being maintained. Gun owners and gun safety activists should be agreeing on this.

Common ground is there, but we need to get rid of the noise.
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It's About Guns - Again

Category: Guns
Posted: 10/02/15 12:49

by Dave Mindeman

This scene is getting way too familiar. A town devastated by a gunman shooting victims indiscriminately. At a school. Killing young people. With everybody looking for some kind of answer.

What makes America so unique in this carnage? Because we are you know. We are the only developed country that has to deal with this mass shooting phenomenon. We are alone. And we keep pretending that we don't know what we can do about it.

The right to own guns is not disputed. Hunters, sportsman, recreational shooting.....nobody is saying to restrict or end those endeavors. But guns are not toys. They are deadly....lethal...life ending. And there needs to be rules and regulations to minimize unintended consequences.

And frankly, it isn't just about preventing these mass shootings. Although that is certainly a main focus. Guns are also the primary means of suicide. They cause countless accidental deaths from children getting access. And other accidents which occur from individuals who have minimal training in how to handle a firearm.

Guns in society can't even be properly studied because the gun lobby pushed Congress to prevent any of those studies, which the CDC had proposed, from going forward.

We have a lot of rights in this country, many guaranteed rights. But we also recognize that a lot of those rights have limits. We are in the midst of a protracted debate on religious freedom vs. individual rights. That debate will go on, but nobody believes that either of those rights are without limits. And for reasons that still escape, we have put restrictions on voting. (That is a whole different discussion)

And the right to bear arms has some limits already. But every legal means of regulating guns gets weakened or eliminated by the powerful gun lobby. We have background checks but with absurd loopholes. We have restrictions on allowing some people to own guns, but the enforcement is weakened by data collection restrictions. And we allow for "gun free" zones but it gets negated by conceal/carry laws and by conflicts in the interpretation of the right to bear arms.

Owning a weapon is a basic right. But does it really mean that you can buy any kind of weapon? Having a weapon to protect your home makes sense. But shouldn't you be required to keep it safely tucked away so that children and visitors to your home are not subject to gun accidents?

The logic of the NRA also escapes me. The answer to bad guys with guns is more good guys with guns? Really? We have an example of the flaw in this logic in this Oregon tragedy. Although the campus was a "gun free" zone, the conceal and carry law seems to supersede that. And there was a student who had his weapon with him. But he told a newsperson that he did not engage because he was afraid of being shot by a swat team or law enforcement officer. And he was absolutely right. First responders do not have time to sort out "good guys" and "bad guys" - you can easily figure out that anyone with a weapon is a legitimate target.

Maybe we need more security personnel at these potential targets. But, seriously, do we really want to turn our schools, theaters, and malls into armed camps? Is that what we are about?

So what do we need? We need absolute universal background checks on every gun sale any time, to any one, and anywhere. No loopholes. None. And we need a complete and secure database that has reliable and complete data on felons, domestic abusers, and mental illness with a potential for violence. Even if we have some errors in these databases, and I hope we are careful enough to keep them to a minimum, how much of an imposition is it for a person not to have a gun? How much of your daily life is disrupted if you do not own a gun?

We need waiting periods so that people who want to act on a moment of passion cannot. We need to limit ammunition clips to smaller numbers of rounds. How much of an inconvenience can this be? And if you keep a gun in your home then you need to also own a lock box to keep it in.

Stand your ground laws need to just go away. It gives people an open ended thought process about how they can use their firearm. Self defense is already a legal defense, don't tie the courts hands with ambiguous legal reasoning on weapons use.

And, in addition, conceal and carry laws cannot give total discretion to the gun owner. People in business, schools, churches, and government buildings need to be able to exercise their judgment without NRA or other gun lobby entities interfering with determining a safe environment.

No one can guarantee that new gun laws will prevent what happened in Oregon from ever happening again. No one can do that. We are still an open society that carries a certain amount of risk. But we can and must reduce that risk by whatever means is reasonable.

And reasonable has not been a description of the NRA.
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If Recruiters Get Armed-Then Include Tougher Background Checks

Category: Guns
Posted: 07/27/15 16:52

by Dave Mindeman

Minnesota Republicans in the legislature want to propose another gun law....

Some Republicans in the Legislature say they want to allow active military personnel in the state to carry firearms. The move would allow people in uniform to protect themselves if there is an attack on a military base or recruiting station, said Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa.

I will probably get myself into trouble with my liberal friends on this, but I tend to think of this proposal as a "reasonable" type gun law. After all, it has been made pretty clear that when these ISIS sympathizers strike out on their own, it is men and women in uniform that will be their primary targets.

But I would want more.

If the objective is to make everyone safer, then in addition to this proposal it is time to make every gun purchase or carrier subject to a full and complete background check. All military bases...all recruiting stations...would have personnel go through a rigorous check. All purchases - retail, private, or gun show - would all be subject to the same type of background check.

If Republicans want to pursue this step, then Democrats will want to lock those background checks into the legislation. If gun safety is the ultimate goal, then how could such a combination of legislation be a bad thing?

Heather Martens of Protect Minnesota, a gun regulation group, will probably fight this legislation...

The director of a gun control group says the proposal would allow military personnel to escape background checks aimed at screening for past domestic abuse cases. Improving the background check system, not arming more people, is a better answer, said Heather Martens of the group Protect Minnesota.

She makes a legitimate point, but if we alleviate her objection with full and complete background checks in combination with the proposal, couldn't everyone come around to a support of the tighter legislation?

These gun debates get long and very arduous. Often, what one side proposes becomes what the other side disposes. In the meantime, no one is being made safer and the deaths mount.

It's time for sensible solutions and forget the political talking points.

Let's all step back and find that third way.
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