In the past I've written blogs or articles about a few things that tend to be a bit controversial. I know... I know... Some of you are thinking, "Frank? Controversial? Nah..." Now that we've all had a good laugh, I know we all realize that sometimes I like to stir a big bucket with a huge paddle. If it makes people think and inspires (intelligent) conversation then I've succeeded in my goal. What occurred to be just this morning is that I almost always assume that my blogs are read by people who have and exercise common sense. But how do we define "common sense"? Certainly, what I assume to be common sense other people don't. Most of us are familiar with the statement, The problem with common sense is that it's uncommon. But this really began to grate on me. How much of what I write, that I just assume people will understand (and usually agree with) doesn't make any sense to some folks because MY perception of common sense and THEIR perception of common sense is so totally different? Let's take a for instance: One of my favorite topics is the 2nd Amendment. To me it's just common sense that if more law abiding citizens were legally armed, trained and willing to resist being victims, then there would be fewer personal crimes committed. Why? Because criminals would know there was an increased risk of getting killed as they attempted to commit the crime. It's just common sense, right? Maybe. Maybe not. There are plenty of people who believe that reducing the number of guns in circulation would result in an equally proportionate decrease in violent crime because a tool of violence was reduced in availability. No matter which side of the debate you're on, you see my point: what is common sense is entirely dependent on your outlook. It's not an absolute. Many other things in a police officer's day can be affected by this same reality. If you receive a stop sign assignment, it's safe to assume that something has inspired it: either enough citizen complaints about people not stopping at that intersection, a recent accident, or something else. No matter the inspiration, you get the assignment and common sense tells us that targeted enforcement will result in more people stopping at those stop signs. When you pull over the folks who run that stop sign though, there are two things that we don't all agree on. You veteran officers know that many of the citizens you stop will voice the opinion that your actions will in no way increase safety at that intersection. In fact, some of them will imply that your actions there are nothing more than a thinly veiled effort to increase revenue for your employing governmental entity. Setting that aside, you may feel that a warning is in order while your sergeant feels that every stop warrants a citation. The difference of opinions is based in large part on common sense. Another example that is big news at the moment is flu shots. With the growing numbers of reported H1N1 (swine) flu infections, public safety workers are being encouraged to go get their shot. It's just common sense since you come in contact with so many people - and let's be honest: many of them have less than perfect hygiene. BUT, then there is the news report out this morning that said, while the U.S. has already bought 195 million doses of the available vaccine, it's now being tested for safe use. Huh? Well, MY common sense tells me that in any test environment, the guinea pig is the one taking the risk. Common sense tells me I don't want to be that guinea pig. Common sense also makes me remember that no member of my family has ever had a flu shot and, lo and behold, in the past ten years, none of us has had the flu either. SO, contrary to the popular train of thought, I probably won't be getting a flu shot this year. That may be common sense for me, but NOT for you. In fact, I know a few folks who will tell me, flat out, that I'm stupid for NOT rushing to get that shot. After all, from their perspective, getting vaccinated against a potentially deadly disease is only common sense. Common sense is as personal as your finger prints, retina patterns and DNA. YOU have to choose based on your own common sense. That all said, we still all agree on one thing: The problem with common sense is that it's uncommon. What do you think?