There is Irony in the Tragedy at Virginia Tech

Now is not the time, in my view, to begin another round of endless debate over gun control and gun rights in this country. In the wake of the unimaginable tragedy at Virginia Tech, now is the time to bury the dead, to console and comfort the friends and family of the victims, and to nurture and encourage the survivors of the worst gun spree in American history. There will be plenty of time in the coming weeks and months for a new national conversation about why we do this to one another, so often it seems, and with such spasms of anger and violence and destruction. Nearly eight years to the day after the Columbine High School killings in Colorado, we will again be forced by the painful images beamed to us from Virginia this week to confront the nature of sudden death being sprung upon our young, our kids, our brothers and our sisters-- our future.

But I learned two fascinating things Monday afternoon in the immediate wake of the killing spree. First, I learned from two gun control advocates, including Jim Hennigan at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, that gun control in this country and specifically on our nation's campuses has not gotten measurably better in the eight years since Columbine. In many cases, these advocates say, it's gotten worse. Second, I learned from CBS News' Armen Keteyian that school administrators and college officials at Virginia Tech had in fact implemented reasonable security measures (against the wishes of state legislators) designed to limit guns on campus. In other words, even though the university was relatively proactive in confronting the problem of guns on campus, the brutal slayings occurred anyway.

Together and collectively, these nuggets seem as senseless as was yesterday's attack and I am sure that you have many of the same questions that I had when I first learned about how little was done to protect our students following Columbine and about how ineffective Virginia Tech's well-intentioned gun control policy seems to have been. I won't list those questions here and now, much less try to answer them. As I said, there will be plenty of time to talk about it all once the dead are buried and more material facts emerge. For now, all that's left to say is that it appears relentlessly obvious that our awesome capacity for evil and brutality is still measurably greater than our capacity and willingness to protect ourselves from it.

By Andrew Cohen |  April 17, 2007; 8:27 AM ET
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In Port Author, Australia on April 28th, 1996, a gunman opened up and killed 35 people and wounded 37 more. From that incident Australia effectively banned anything but a hunting rifle in their country. In doing so, the families that were effected felt like because of new laws we might now see the end of such senseless violence. I can't imagine why someone would decided to kill 32 completely innocent people, but I can tell you "banning" guns won't stop the violence. It hasn't worked in Australia, the UK, NYC, Chicago or DC; there is no reason to believe it will do so in Blacksburg

Posted by: Christian Bongiorno | April 17, 2007 09:53 AM

Honorable gun control policy on V Tech campus, says Andrew Cohen? How silly those policy makers were.
The real 'irony' here is that pretty much the same people who think they can deny the constitutional right to bear arms by imposing silly restrictions on paper, and believe they've sone something worthwhile, are invariably the same people who think that they are somehow not effected by the threats of Islamic Fascism and that the concern of terrorism is overblown.
The rest of us would be wise to tune out the gun control and terrorism is overblown voices and realize that protecting one's self is a right guaranteed by the constitution, and that strict life sentences for gun criminals together with an armed citizenry are two ways to get the nuts off the street BEFORE they shoot your children or nuke your city.
Damon Williams

Posted by: Damon | April 17, 2007 09:55 AM

In 1996, there was a similar mass murder Down Under, in the town of Port Arthur, a seaside town in Tasmania that was once home to a notorious prison camp from the "transportation" era. A mentally ill bloke stole hunting rifles and handguns from a neighbour and stalked through the town for hours, committing atrocities such as pulling a mother from her car, shooting her two pre-teen children and then gunning her down after telling her to run. It would have been horrifying even in the United States, but in Australia it was culture-changing.

In the only action that I support during the during 12 years he's been in power, Crime Minister John Howard reversed his former position and came out strongly for gun control. Weapons were severely restricted and there was a massive buyback scheme. As a frontier land, Australia had a history of hunting and firearms ownership. But people were shocked enough to go along with the weapons turn-in. It's still possible to get authorisation for hunting and target shooting, but it's difficult.

And you know what? It's safe here. There are occasional murders with firearms, especially amongst the mobster groups. But mostly, you can walk the streets at night secure that you won't be shot. Bashed, mugged by someone with a knife, accosted by drunks perhaps, but not blown away from a distance. Shortly after I immigrated here, I was waiting for a tram after work one night and saw a young man who acted coked-up and his girlfriend attacking a cabbie. I waded into the fray and pulled the guy off the cabbie, which I could do with less trepidation because I knew he wouldn't whip out a pistol and blast everyone in the vicinity. It's such a relief to live in a country where you don't face murder at any moment.

However, I don't expect anything to change in the United States. As Cohen notes, school security has not changed since Columbine. Several Southern states ave passed these "shoot first" laws that allow people to kill others in the street if they feel threatened. The Preznit's spokeswoman prefaced her initial comments about the shooting with a statement about how Bush supports the right to carry guns. And the usual voices from the gun wingnuts are alrwady saying the solution is to let ALL students carry guns at all times on campuses.

So there will be a few weeks of hand-wringing, but nothing will change in bloody America. And the shoot-em-up murders will continue, two or three here, five there, with the occasional outburst in the teens. Terrorists are not Americans' worst enemies -- other Americans with guns are.

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | April 17, 2007 10:29 AM

Our culture worships blood and violence. To blame an inanimate object like a gun is an easy out. The purveyors of this lust for violence that is turning our kids into psychopaths is Hollywood, MTV, VH1, Computer games. These are the ones we should blame. They have made mass-murder and being a murdering criminal "cool."
We probably will have gun control legislation as a result of the VaTech slaughter. But it will be for naught until we realize the root of our ills is the filth spewed out by the mass-media. But they will not be held accountable and will hide behind "freedom of expression."
Meanwhile another generation of homocidal maniacs are weened on Tarintino films and rap music.

Posted by: Philip L | April 17, 2007 10:33 AM

In the time it took me to type all that, I see Christian Bongiorno has chimed in with a FALSEHOOD about Australia. You're right about the weapons restriction, mate, but you're wrong about stopping the violence. It's MUCH safer here. Not only are handgun murders rare, but so are stick-ups and other gun crime. I live here. I know.

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | April 17, 2007 10:34 AM

"Bukko" says: Terrorists are not Americans' worst enemies -- other Americans with guns are. Except the shooter wasn't an American. He was South Korean. Maybe now this will turn into an immigration debate instead of a gun control debate? The FACT is this has to do with one sick individual and not with ANY political policy.

Posted by: MJ | April 17, 2007 10:36 AM

I would love to see the gun laws tightened up but sadly I don't think it will happen. This country is too obsessed with their 'right' to own whatever they want. I won't even get into the original purpose of The Right to Bear Arms. Harsher laws would help but of course people who want to kill will find a way but wouldn't it be nice if you couldn't go down to your local Wal-Mart and pick up a gun?
How am I not surprised that someone jumped on the immigrant bandwagon. As soon as I heard the word Asian, I thought- well that's it, they'll blame it on those 'damn immigrants'. From what I have read the killer was an American citizen. They did not say he snuck into the country illegally to murder college students. He was a naturalized citizen. It's so hypocritical. If he had discovered the cure for cancer, he would have been the embodiment of the American Dream, a real American. But he maliciously murdered 33 innocent people, so he is a foreigner. Does that make it better?

Posted by: JRM | April 17, 2007 11:03 AM

Each year more than 30,0000 people die of gun violence in the US. To find another country with similar numbers you have to go to a war zone such as Iraq or Somalia. Countries with reasonable restrictions of ownership and registration have much lower rates of homicide and gun violence. What is our excuse? Politcal grandstanding by so called "conservatives"? We are fighting in the Middle East essentially over the death of about 3,000 people in NYC, here we have 10 times that many every year and we think nothing of it. Go figure.

Posted by: Ed Mahan, Boston, MA | April 17, 2007 11:09 AM

There is a bumper sticker used by the pro gun lobby that states: "Guns don't kill, people do." It really is misleading. It should say: "Guns don't kill, but people with guns do!"

It is actually quite simple: the more guns are available, the easier it is to get them, the more likely it is that someone is going to shoot someone. Period. The day we will make it illegal to posses anything but a hunting rifle, the number of shootings will decrease, as it has in Australia after tighter controls on guns were put in place.

Posted by: BB | April 17, 2007 11:11 AM

The previously most deadly mass shooting took place in Killeen, Texas on October 16, 1991. A lone gunman entered a Luby's Cafeteria restaurant killing 23 persons before killing himself. Ironically, among the patrons were several who had shotguns in their vehicles. In direct response to this tragedy, the Texas Legislature in 1995 became the first to pass a concealed handgun law over a governor's veto. Many other states have followed.

What would have been the outcome in Blackburg on April 16 if even one of the victims had been allowed to defend himself or herself?

Those who kill without societal and judicially recognized justification are criminals. While it is true that these killers can kill more easily and more rapidly using automatic or semiautomatic weapons than they could wielding a knife or a bat, they are violent killers. It is not simply "guns" that kill but gunmen.

As others have noted, correctly, violence and criminality abound, in Western society and, indeed, in all societies. This has been true from the beginning of humankind since Cain and Abel.

There would have been no need for a Sixth Commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill" if there were no killers in Biblical times or ever after. There would have been no need for a Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (ratified 1791) if there were no need to defend against violence. The right to bear arms predates early American organic law.

It has been wisely said that if guns are outlawed, only criminals will have guns. I, and you, have the right to defend ourselves against well-armed criminals.

Had I, a former law enforcement officer, along with others who are properly trained, been at Blackburg, being capable of defending ourselves and others, the tragedy there might have been averted or at least neutralized much sooner.

Criminal control and violence control are the real issues. The right to defend oneself from criminal behavior and violence is logically prior to, and separate from those issues. This right of self protection follows as a necessary and prudent response to, not as a cause of, violence.

Posted by: M L B | April 17, 2007 11:48 AM

What if people had fought back? What if they were not stripped of their right to self defense? I blame not only the gunman but also the lawmakers who passed laws disarming all those victims and the school administration that "cracked down" on violence by making rules against guns on campus.

No one fought back because they couldn't. The reason this ended so terribly is that no one could fight back. Blaming pro-gun advocates for this is like blaming the Jews for the holocaust. THey were disarmed and led to the slaughter.

Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Mussolini, and Pol Pot are all big fans of gun control.

"Of all the misdeeds of the British rule in India history will look upon the Act depriving an entire nation of arms as the blackest." -Gandhi (in his autobiography)

Posted by: Ben Johnson | April 17, 2007 11:53 AM

So, after 9/11, we should have banned airplanes?

Posted by: SG | April 17, 2007 12:24 PM

I really and truly can't understand why congress is not stopping Iraqi war's funding. There is no other way to end Iraqi war, but to impeach Bush/Cheney or to stop funding. They are not going over the first most desirable avenue, they are also very afraid to take responsibility to go over the second one. Now there should be the serious retaliation for mass murders in Iraq, as Virginia Tech event showed. So, either the second amendment-Republican stronghold is abolished, or our country is becoming the new suicide bombing and shooting ground, especially schools, but also other crowded places. Would dems allow Bush to get away with this new revocation or what?

Posted by: aepelbaum | April 17, 2007 12:32 PM

Here's some common sense. An automobile on campus which is driven by a responsible person is not dangerous, however driven by a drunk becomes a weapon. A gun in the hands of a trained student/citizen is not dangerous, however in the hands of a mad man becomes a weapon. Gun control takes a "protective tool" from law abiding citizens NOT mad men. A lunatic who has intentions to go on a murderous rampage WILL get a gun through illegal means, a "law" will not stop them. The final equation is frightening: unarmed citizens (due to gun control laws) + armed psychopath = dead citizens. Mr.Cho Seung-Hui (shooter) wouldn't be alive to kill 33 people if students / faculty were allowed to carry a firearm.

Posted by: Mark - Arizona | April 17, 2007 12:34 PM

Yesterday, Sen. McCain reaffirmed his support of the 2nd amendment as permitting wide gun ownership except for "bad people and limit it to "law-abiding citizens". My response:

Given that the gun lobby opposes nearly every limitation on gun ownership, how do you propose to keep weapons out of the hands of "bad people"? Would you have recognized the Virginia Tech shooter as a "bad person" before yesterday?

What specific federal legislation regarding gun control do you support in order to keep weapons out of the hands of "bad people"?

Where in the Second Amendment does it state that the right to bear arms is limited to "good people" or "law-abiding citizens"?

Why do you believe that the right to bear arms is essentially unlimited and not modified by the first thirteen words of the amendment? Why are those words there and what do they mean to you?

Since the amendment is not specific as to types of arms, is it OK with you if I, a good person, acquire a shoulder-launched missile, a tactical nuclear weapon, and build a few IEDs? I need them for my militia, which I assure you is well regulated.

Posted by: Eric Riback | April 17, 2007 01:35 PM

So a mentally disordered young man, nearly a graduate, supported by others to be able to live on a nice campus, manages to turn his resentment of "rich kids" into part of an excuse for mass murder, even while he has the money to buy a Glock.

In my college generation, I was lucky to have money for two meals a day, while working full-time at menial employment during the day and going to college at 7 a.m. for one class and at night for the other.

What we have is a real lack of perspective being instilled in some young people. That said about the negative outliers, one has to be really impressed by how articulate, caring, dignified, loyal and smart the Virginia Tech students appear to be. It's refreshing to see a glimpse of such bright young folks through their TV interviews. Overall, there really is progress from past generations to the present.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 17, 2007 01:45 PM

Reality dictates that it's impossible to keep weapons (guns, bomb, missile launchers) from "Bad" people. As long as "bad people" exist they will find ways to kill and perhaps kill on a "mass scale".

Remember it only took a box van, few hundred pounds of fertilizer, & diesel fuel for Timothy McVeigh to kill 168 men, women & children, not a gun. Any mad man can get these materials from Home Depot, so what good is a "Gun Ban" in this instance? SG said it best, should we ban airplanes after 9/11?

For a gun ban to work you must disarm the UNlawful. That's not going to happen. The ban will disarm the lawful, leaving the criminals with guns. (if you think criminals are going to "turn in" their guns after a gun law is past you've been sitting in a drum circle smoking too much weed maaaan...)

Posted by: Mark - Arizona | April 17, 2007 02:03 PM

Fascinating. I didn't realize Cho Seung-Hui killed 30+ people with a Tarantino movie in one hand and a computer game in the other...

Posted by: Guns4Tots | April 17, 2007 02:09 PM

I think its absoluely assinine for people to say if the kids in the classroom were armed, they would have been better off.

A member of the Blacksburg PD was asked yesterday if he thought the situation would have or could have been remedied if students on campus had guns. He responded that it would have made the situation 10 times worse. He said as a cop you're trained that in a situation like they had yesterday, if they came across a couple of students with guns they weren't going to stop and ask if they were innocent civililans trying to stop the criminal. They would have shot first. Basically he was saying bringing more guns into the equation would have made the situation more chaotic.

You know the amount of stupid stuff you college kids do. You think mixing in firearms is the way to make them safer? It would be an enviornment of fear, where you dont know if the person in the next dorm room might get ticked at his cheating girlfriend after a few jack and cokes one night and take out his glock to go find her. Or how about fraternity fights at local bars. You dont think if they had guns and a few beers in them, they wouldnt use guns? how about people just goofing around with them and accidently shooting through a window when they are aiming for a beer can. Cmon, you can't possibly think this?

College security and police should carry the concealed weapons, not students.

Posted by: lundi | April 17, 2007 02:10 PM

A citizen's right to bear arms is not only for reasons of self defense, but also for defense against tyrannical government. Too many people skirt around this fact, but it's the simple truth. Our founding fathers are quoted numerous times stressing the fact that citizens need to retain the ability to defend themselves against power hungry, oppressive, totalitarian government, like the one we separated ourselves from on July 4, 1776. The second amendment allows us to bear arms so that a militia, (which is not the National Guard by the way), can be properly armed to take action in time of internal oppression.

The right to arms for self defense should be considered a given when considering that we all have a right to live, given by God. Those who choose not to obey the law, have already categorized themselves as criminals, and cannot be expected to obey gun laws. But upright, law-abiding citizens deserve to have the same advantage as the criminals when it comes to defending themselves. Unless American's are willing to give up everything that makes them Americans, we cannot give up out ability to defend against authoritarian administration.

Posted by: Aaron | April 17, 2007 02:15 PM

For "Bukko in Australia" who thinks that Australia is a safer place since the Ban in 1996. Just type "Australian crime rate" in Google. Reality is Australian violent crime rates have gone through the roof since that ban.

Posted by: Mark - Arizona | April 17, 2007 02:17 PM

Gun control is well-intentioned, simpleton thinking. The fact is that if there had been one person in proximity with a gun, quite a few of those people might not have been killed. The answer is far more complicated than just controlling guns.

Posted by: celtic | April 17, 2007 02:25 PM

Mark, I don't need to type anything into Google. I spent the first 46 years of my life living in various places in eight different U.S. states and the last two living in Melbourne, Victoria, a city of 3 million people. I walk the streets on the way to and from the trams at night with no fear. I couldn't do that in the U.S. I read the newspapers here, and I work in hospital. I read less about violent crime here, and I haven't had a single patient who's been shot by a gun in two years working at the city's largest hospital. Much different to my U.S. hospital work.

You can delude yourself all you want, but I know first-hand that Australia is safer -- BECAUSE THERE ARE NO GUNS! Sad to see the U.S. sinking further into being a violent dystopia. What you've sown in Iraq, you shall reap at home...

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | April 17, 2007 02:36 PM

I agree strongly with Philip L. that the portrayal of 'life' by the media today makes it look like "Violence La-La Land". I'm getting a disconnect somewhere, because when I go outside into MY community, I'm not seeing 100 mph car chases with people shooting at each other with automatic weapons, and the killing of innocent bystanders isn't even considered a problem -- just collateral damage, all in a day's work... Do the media -- by their perverted 'can-you-top-this' violence-prone programming -- actually 'want' things to evolve to this state (??) And then progress quickly to anarchy, as we all try to protect ourselves from violence in an atmosphere where our normal law enforcement authorities are either incapable, overwhelmed, or disinterested from doing so? When folks who have a traditionally solid-based moral and rational perspective on living together in society (and a LOT of these folks bear arms, by the way) are overwhelmed by violence and no longer heard or respected, then we will have chaos, and nobody will be safe anywhere, at any time, from anything...even the movie producers and major media moguls who are getting rich pandering this kind of slime. If you want to see what it can be like, go rent a copy of Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange", or "The Shining" at your local video store... Then go out and get a weapon -- and prepare yourself, like so many other law-abiding citizens feel they must do. In the communications classes I took in college, there was a strong presence of something called the 'social responsibility theory' and how it should be applied to, and by, our media. There's virtually no evidence of this today, expect in the Bible. Maybe we need to go back there as a source of insight about how we ought to engage in this thing called 'society.'

Posted by: Thoughtful... | April 17, 2007 02:51 PM

that line should have read: "There's virtually no evidence of this today, EXCEPT in the Bible. Maybe we need to go back there as a source of insight about how we ought to engage in this thing called society."

Posted by: Thoughtful... | April 17, 2007 02:57 PM

Bukko, Then Phoenix must be one of the safest places to live, I've not been the victim of a single violent crime here. Besides, your assumptions are ridiculous since your own state website shows a subsequent increase in crime each year.

http://www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?document_id=782

Monash University shooting sound familiar? A student at Monash University went into a tutorial room at the Clayton campus with 5 GUNS and shot and killed 2 students. All this happened in 2002.

Get your facts straight Bukko.

Posted by: Mark - Arizona | April 17, 2007 03:03 PM

Does the Second Amendment apply to foreigners? Most of the Second Amendments supporters are strict constructionists - where do they read that there is a right for foreigners to bear arms?

Posted by: GeneWells | April 17, 2007 03:04 PM

Determining the effect of changes in Australia's gun ownership laws and the government's firearm buy-back program on crime rates requires a complex long-term analysis and can't be discerned from the small, mixed grab bag of short-term statistics cited here. In actuality, violent crime rates have been stable in Australia...the absolute number has increased and that is largely due to an increased population. Gun related violence rates, have however, decreased since the gun ban was enacted. These results, however, aren't necessarily applicable to the USA, where laws regarding gun ownership are (and always have been) much different than those in Australia.

Posted by: ag | April 17, 2007 03:20 PM

The sheriff said that if the students would have been armed it would have been 10 times worse..... When? Two hours later when the sheriff entered the building. Hmmm! This would have been over in 2 minutes if the any of the students or the teachers were armed.

As for all the ignorant people who have been saying that we need more gun control.

First, this individual was not from this country so he was already breaking several laws just by being in possession of the firearms..... A lot of good those laws did!

Second, the media is reporting that the serial numbers have been removed from these weapons.... Another law that the shooter neglected to follow!

Maybe..... Just maybe..... If there had been just a couple of more laws he would have thought twice about committing another crime...Murder!

"Maybe if possession of handguns were illegal... he would not have gotten the guns by illegal means.... to commit an illegal crime"..... The amazing thing is, that statement sounds right to some of you.

All of you who support Sarah Brady, just remember one quote made by her.....

"Our task of creating a socialist America can only succeed when those who would resist us have been totally disarmed." Sara Brady, Chairman, Handgun Control, to Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, The National Educator, January 1994, Page 3.

Posted by: RAY | April 17, 2007 03:27 PM

Hey ag....
How are the schools there. I can read and understand statistics. The numbers in Victoria are not stable as you stated. The murder rates are up 14.7% and that is per 100,000 people, so your assumption that the numbers are higher because of increased population doesn't work. Sorry, juggling the facts won't work here.

Posted by: Ray | April 17, 2007 03:38 PM

Wow, what good, thoughtful logic by the gun proponents. Let's put MORE guns in the hands of people (college students) who pull all-nighters, binge drink, have raging hormones, agonize about getting into grad school, agonize about financial aid. etc.

Brilliant!

Posted by: Loudounian | April 17, 2007 03:39 PM

Ray: "First, this individual was not from this country so he was already breaking several laws just by being in possession of the firearms..... A lot of good those laws did!"

Sorry Ray, but as a green card holder this nutjob was legally entitled to buy these guns. So much for that argument, ray.

Posted by: Loudounian | April 17, 2007 03:47 PM

When was the last time you read in the paper....
"Gunman enters police station and kills 33, 22 wounded."
No the headline would have been....
"Gunman enters police station waving a gun and was shot 412 times!"
Psycho's attack places like post offices and schools.... laws then guarantee they'll be the only one with a gun.

Posted by: Ray | April 17, 2007 03:49 PM

Ray: "When was the last time you read in the paper....
"Gunman enters police station and kills 33, 22 wounded."
No the headline would have been....
"Gunman enters police station waving a gun and was shot 412 times!"
Psycho's attack places like post offices and schools.... laws then guarantee they'll be the only one with a gun."

wow Ray, you're really on a roll. You must be new to this planet. Why don't you read up on Michael Kennedy's attack last year on the Sully police station in Fairfax County, in which he murdered officers Vicky Armel and Michael Garbarino.

Way to go, sport.

Posted by: Loudounian | April 17, 2007 03:52 PM

I thank you for the link, Mark, although it's a scary thing to see Police Commissioner Nixon's face in the middle of the night. She's quite the heifer. Luckily, I'm doing a midnight shift in the respiratory ward, so the fright will help keep me awake.

I scanned the .pdf files, mate, and didn't see a single stat about gun violence. Petrol drive-offs, yes -- this country is so much like America in the 1950s, where they still worry about the little things because there are relatively few big crimes. Some crime categories were up, some were down. As another poster pointed out, the population is increasing, so that could account for some of it.

I never claimed Australia was a crime-free la-la land -- car break-ins and home burglaries are big here -- but gun crime is minimal. I had not heard of the Monash shooting, which happened before I got here. There has also been a gangland war between the local Italian mafia and the Lebanese/Albanian factions, with a number of people being gunned down "Sopranos" style.

But overall, society is MUCH safer here. Australia tends to have punch-ups, bashings with blunt objects and stabbings. Direct physical contact battles, which strikes me as more manly than plugging someone from a distance. Nothing like those dual serial killers you had in Phoneix, eh? Stay safe, but you'll have a harder time doing it there than here. Unless you go into Collingwood wearing the colours of the Carlton footy team...

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | April 17, 2007 03:57 PM

Ray: "All of you who support Sarah Brady, just remember one quote made by her.....

"Our task of creating a socialist America can only succeed when those who would resist us have been totally disarmed." Sara Brady, Chairman, Handgun Control, to Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, The National Educator, January 1994, Page 3."

That is a bogus quote -- is anyone surprised by that? http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcbogus_brady.html

Always easier to argue with strawmen, eh ray?

Posted by: Loudounian | April 17, 2007 04:02 PM

Oh, and Ray -- the murder stats were up, but I didn't see any breakdown of HOW the murders were committed. There were some publicised stabbings, a case where a creepy nextdoor neighbour broke into the house of two sisters and rape/killed them (he was gunned down by highway police on the other side of the country) and one in which a bouncer beat a drunk loudmouth to death. The 14.7% increase took the murder rate to 4.4 per 100,000 people from what, 3.8 per 100K? What's a comparable rate for a middling-sized city in the (other) States? I'd look it up, but it's 0600 and I have to pass meds and take vitals. Good day, and don't forget to duck!

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | April 17, 2007 04:06 PM

Loudounian,

I was wrong about the virgina laws and Green cards and I can admit that...
Virginia is one of the few that allows for Green card immigrants to purchace handguns. But there is still no state that allows the purchase of handguns with altered serial numbers. It's convienient of you to pick out one thing and not comment on the others.
As for Michael Kennedy, thank you for proving my point. An escaped mental patien ( no right to posess a firearm) shoots three police officers in a parking lot and is killed by the police! For some reason that doesn't sound like 33 dead to me.

Posted by: Ray | April 17, 2007 04:11 PM

wow, Ray, so Kennedy killed "only" two police officers. You gun nuts are sick.

Also, who said the serial numbers were filed off when the shooter bought the guns? Nice red herring (to go with your strawman). So that's another of your point that's wrong.

Posted by: Loudounian | April 17, 2007 04:13 PM

So, what is the surprise? Young minds and souls can't take the overwhelming hypocrisy this society is so densely needled with. The real and so obvious evidence of 9/11, the terrible four years long massacre in Iraq, which is worse, as technology is more advanced, than numerous massacres of Indians prior to the complete creation of the USA. The leading females of this society such as Oprah or Hillary Clinton, whose actions and real, and also well known, biographies are in such opposition to what they are saying, and trying to promote officially. Etc., etc., etc..

Posted by: aepelbaum | April 17, 2007 04:24 PM

Um, defence against a tyrannical government? I hope you're just as concerned about the current government systematically taking away some of those other rights you have.

Give the people rifles!! I could care less... But what do people need with handguns?! Even with all the arms available for purchase right now, do you seriously think you can take on the US military should it turn on the people?? No, you're right, let's buy more guns and more weapons and give them to everyone. I'm sure 50 guns in a bar-room brawl would yield 49 responsible protectors of the peace--even though they're under the influence of alcohol--restraining that one crazy person who decided to perpetrate a crime.

Posted by: Skye | April 17, 2007 04:40 PM

Owning or purchasing a firearm with the serial filed off is AGAINST THE LAW!

Posted by: Aaron | April 17, 2007 04:45 PM

Nice Loudounian. You generalize all college students as "binge drink & have raging hormones", not responsible enough to handle a gun? Remember these students are the same age as our soldiers protecting you and your family's welfare in the states. Oh wait, you hate everything our soldiers fight for, silly me, you could care less...

Posted by: Mark - Arizona | April 17, 2007 04:45 PM

Ray, i actually live in the United States, was born here, and finished a post-graduate education.
If you look at a year to year difference rather than trends with these statistics, they are meaningless. The data from 1997-2004 are actually the only "official" stats. The link you provided was preliminary data. The statistics from 1997-2004 actually do demonstrate a decrease in gun related crime in Australia as a whole (not just Victoria). That trend is also too short to truly draw a good conclusion from as well.
As I stated before, this does not necessarily mean that we in the US would see similar results with a gun ban. I was only stating that using the data the way you are is not accurate.

Posted by: ag | April 17, 2007 04:54 PM

Mark: Oh wait, you hate everything our soldiers fight for, silly me, you could care less...

wow, what an a-hole you are.

by the way, jerk, you ignored my comments about college students pulling all-nighters, agonizing about getting into grad school, etc. and are you going to be the one to decide which college students seeking to buy guns have raging hormones or not?

you are truly a creep.

Posted by: Loudounian | April 17, 2007 05:06 PM

(Yawn)...

Posted by: Mark - Arizona | April 17, 2007 05:11 PM

Why is this issue so complex to solve? While the 2nd Amendment gives U.S. citizens the right to bear arms, it says nothing about ammunition. Guns don't kill people, bullets do!

Simply make the manufacture, sale and possession of ammunition illegal and let the people have all the guns they want.

Posted by: Jeff D | April 17, 2007 05:48 PM

Been reading this a bit...

Hey Loudounian - read back on this a little a see just how fast you resorted to name calling and general jerkiness. Ray refused to stoop to your level. You're clearly the a-hole. Seems to me you're sittin on a powder keg of anger - we should just take your gun away.

Posted by: celtic | April 17, 2007 06:02 PM

Since I've been yapping about Australia in the context of the Blacksburg shootings, let me add one more anecdote before I catch the tram home and go to sleep. One of the housekeepers is a 30-something Iraqi refugee named Samira. When she came to do the morning rubbish bin rounds today, she asked me whether I had seen the news of the shooting. As the token Yank here, I get all the "What's up with America?" jibes. When I said I had, her reply was "That is not one day in my country" meaning it's less than the daily death toll where she fled from. She was a bit satisfied to see America getting some come-uppance. It's a shame that the U.S. is now so widely despised that people get schadenfreude from watching its massacres. The U.S. is regarded as this gun-mad murder nation, mates. Not good to be hated and ridiculed...

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | April 17, 2007 06:09 PM

How was this really, honestly going to be diverted by gun control? The guy had no prior record. He paid a fairly large sum for the gun. He didn't buy an extreme amount of ammunition. He bought the gun well in advance. The only way to make this into a gun control problem would be to say: "When we allow law-abiding adults to buy weapons, we are doing something wrong." The real problem lying dormant here is anti-depressants, a facet often ignored in these tragedies.

Posted by: Anti-Climacus | April 17, 2007 07:31 PM

Hey Bukko,

Goodness, when are you folks from Australia, always shooting your mouths off, going to learn that we do not care what your muck of a country feels about this situation? Your people gave up on personal freedoms long ago.

Posted by: John Howard | April 17, 2007 07:34 PM

A brit living in the States since 1984. First year I lived here something on the order of 350 people were killed by guns in the District of Columbia alone. By comparison 50 people were killed in the whole of the UK (some 60 odd million people) that year.

Todays Post reports the UK says one half of one percent of all crimes are committed with guns. Doesn t say there is no crime, just crime committed with guns. Yesterdays Post noted that many more suicides happen in states with high gun ownership. Guns are generally more successful than pills at helping you commit suicide.

Nothing will change in this country - they ve lost beloved Presidents to gun violence and nothing changed. And that was before the days of video games, which get blamed for so much of the violence. England has video games. The thing they dont have is easy access to guns. The NRA has already set their aggressive attack dogs to put down this insurgency in all the media and they will succeed because the politicians are too craven and no-one is brave enough to say that the wish of the minority to bear arms is no longer in the interests of the rest of the general public. And commonsense will not prevail. In England you can own guns, but you need to get licenced. In Virginia you have to get a licence for a car, but not for a gun. The NRA bullies are too intimidating. If only there were someone with courage maybe I wouldn t be crossing my fingers that my daughters dont happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where is the real outrage? Dont tell me you ll prosecute the laws to the fullest, as this hypocritical President says, when its too late, and my child is dead. Make those people who want guns, justify them and have them licensed and under lock and key. Self-defence isn t a justification if no-one has them.

Posted by: Pauline | April 17, 2007 09:09 PM

Mr. Cohen,

What you call "irony," I call the utterly predictable consequences of useless, feel-good "gun control" laws that disarm citizens in the face of violent criminals. Creating Harris/Klebold Empowerment Zones invites attacks from thugs who, shockingly, have little regard for gun regulations. There's absolutely no irony in it. It's obvious, not ironic.

Posted by: CTD | April 17, 2007 09:41 PM

I guess I should go and buy a gun and ammunition to protect myself because this is a God given right. In 1791 The second amendment was introduced for a specific purpose which is contained in its opening words: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. ..... Today, the States are protected by The US military. Private individuals are not called up by the local militia with the expectation that they will bring a gun with them to defend their State. Get rid of guns. The US is a violent society and something needs to be done about gun violence. Just consider the number of drive-by shootings and how family members go berserk and shoot one another.

Posted by: Robert James | April 17, 2007 09:49 PM

I see Bush finally found the WMD: a 9mm Glock and .22 cal pistol.

Posted by: Tokyoite | April 17, 2007 10:07 PM

hey celtic: i sense you're upset because I exposed several of your boy ray's posts as lies and nonsense.

Posted by: Loudounian | April 17, 2007 10:54 PM

PS to Celtic: I'm sure you react nicely when someone questions your patriotism. Get lost.

Posted by: Loudounian | April 17, 2007 10:55 PM

An occasional high profile slaughter is the price we pay for freedom. A steady onslaught of gun violence is also the price we pay for freedom. Freedom, in this case, is the freedom to own guns, and the freedom this gives us to kill each other easily and efficiently.

Posted by: Daniel Smith | April 18, 2007 01:08 AM

http://www.ra-gotessays.com/paper/20608/gotessays/yin__yang.html

possible meaning of is male axe concerning ying and yang

Posted by: Stone | April 18, 2007 07:46 AM

Being in the wrong place at the wrong time merely names the culprit, the random mad rampage against which gun regulation laws never did and never will do much good. Alternately, dealing with the act itself, in all its horrific consequences, according to moral prescripts, would strike where the only kind of control which ever matters resides, in the conscience. The massacre isn't different in kind from the Amish slaying, just larger*. The Amish gave us a perfect example in microcosm of how such (being in the wrong place at the wrong time) tragedies are best handled. They prescribed utter and completely unmitigated forgiveness(unmitigated by irrelevant concerns such as cause, that is)for the wrong-doing, followed by ritual conflagration for the place in which it happened. Realizing forgiveness (in a truly collective, reflective form) is the best kind of balm for survivors, when a moral wrong is committed, whether triggered by psychic distress or not. Forgiveness forces the wrong-doing and its consequences into its proper arena for dealing with meaninglessness, the human soul, because it (forgiveness) constitutes a force more powerful and collective than we realize--like a sword, some would say. The closest thing the students had to the Amish closure was the singing of the school anthem together. I hope they hang on to that and not try to believe in a world in which such and such things might not happen if such and such is done. Those watching this arena who are as disillusioned as this slayer was with society at large--which he made target--would be emboldened by revenge, defiant of regulation, excused by psychic explanation, but dissembled by the sword of true forgiveness.

*Maybe size does have something to do with it. Maybe communities have to be small enough for such a sword (derived from moral consciousness) to draw blood, to cut to the quick.

Posted by: Mary Freeman | April 18, 2007 08:12 AM

Campus or classroom, high schools and colleges -- how do we enhance education and reduce stresses? Getting to the root causes of individual destructive impulses and dark motivations, that's the broader issue.

I do not think that making a school environment more cloistered and oppressive, while intentions may be well meaning by some, works. Already there is the inclination of many public school principals to know no bounds in their claimed authority. This does not make for good citizenship or a lifelone desire to learn. Encouraging more of this would be counterproductive in actually curtailing bad and irresponsible behavior.

Schools at all levels need to return to being places where learning is a joy, and the students are eager to be involved. Our universities are a national treasure because they open minds and convey knowledge. The obvious thing is that they are much more stimulating and validating places than the majority of public high schools. While good security is necessary and valued by students and parents, how it is laid out must be carefully evaluated not to undo the purpose of higher education and the special communities they inhabit.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 18, 2007 09:37 AM

One thing that is close to being certain is that if people on campus [teachers, students, staff, etc.] had been packing guns, Cho would have been stopped in his tracks early on. 32 died because they did not have guns.

Posted by: capmotion | April 18, 2007 09:58 AM

Why don't things like this happen in Europe? There are crazy people there too. There must be something wrong in a place where a crazy guy just goes into a store and buys two guns just like that. This is JUST about EASY ACCESS to guns. And maybe, marginally also about the loneliness people feel in this society.

Posted by: AM | April 18, 2007 11:20 AM

"Now is not the time" . .. .but I'll do it anyway!
What else is new?
I know I really shouldn't Andrew . . .But you have a big nose and a bald head . . .What's up with that? Well, let's not get into that right now.
YOU ALREADY HAVE!

Posted by: Fairfaxian | April 18, 2007 11:56 AM

First of all, my prayers are with the victim's families at this time. I hate the fact that I am 38 years old and these incidents seem to me to be occurring more frequently and regularly. I had hoped that my generation would be the generation that could solve the problem, but it doesn't appear likely.
Secondly, it would seem again that the state of mental health as a public health threat in this country must be talked about urgently. People do not treat mental health as on the same level as physical health, and I think we should be able to see by now through all of the most recent examples (including 9/11), that that is blatantly and ignorantly wrong. There are a lot of people walking this earth right now that need people to reach out to them somehow, someway. If you are a humanist, you should accept that. If you are a Christian, then you are obligated by God himself to act upon loving one's neighbor "as thyself". The fact that guns are so easily accessible only compounds the problem of mental instability. A gun might be an inanimate object, but it really doesn't matter what the object is when its in the hands of someone of questionable stability.
Our society promotes violence in the worst way-through everything around us in the form of entertainment. I like a good action film as much as the next person, but I have to wonder; is there desensitization happening to those who least have complete parental involvement? Where were the parents here when this young man was acting such as he was? I find it difficult to believe that he acted so completely opposite at home, that his parents never noticed his interaction, or non-interaction with others around them. Just like the parents of the Columbine killers....who still don't sound very contrite about their own contributions to this day.
There is more than enough responsibility to go around to everyone here.....its not enough that gun control can solve it until mental health is taken completely seriously and social interaction is looked at more intently.....we're going to continue to cause needless suffering.

Posted by: Suzanne | April 18, 2007 12:20 PM

I hate with all my heart, what happened on that campus and all the explaination and finger pointing will in no way asuage the pain and guilt on ALL OF US! We have allowed this very thing to be codoned all over the middle east by our commander and chief. the people in iraq were at university before the Magna Carta. The complex run of events there is fueled by our continued insistance that we are doing some good. we are not. This is the destabilization of the middle east for Other reasons. The cheapness of life is apparent to all thru this obssesive campaign.
We are creating and encouraging young men to committ violence with no moral objectivity, so why not the loner? He thought he was doing something, but it wasnt what he thought. the same for our boys over there. The republicans of Iraq, the baathists, have support and money and are expressing the Imperial there as bush and the 'cons are here. think about it

Posted by: nzo | April 18, 2007 12:48 PM

From: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=21902 dated March 2, 2001.

WND reported that, although lawmakers responsible for passing the ban promised a safer country, the nation's crime statistics tell a different story:

Countrywide, homicides are up 3.2 percent.
Assaults are up 8.6 percent.
Amazingly, armed robberies have climbed nearly 45 percent.
In the Australian state of Victoria, gun homicides have climbed 300 percent.
In the 25 years before the gun bans, crime in Australia had been dropping steadily.
There has been a reported "dramatic increase" in home burglaries and assaults on the elderly

Posted by: JDM | April 18, 2007 12:53 PM

OK. I have read all about the Australian crime stats arguments. Let me bring another country in the mix, Germany. I spent my first 20 years of life in Indiana and about 15 years in Germany.

Let me tell you, the gun laws are much tougher than in any US state, and the amount of shooting are definitely much lower than in the States.

Sure, there are shootings, but these are mostly from gangsters or hunters. That doesn't make a massacre impossible, in fact we had a large one in a high school for three years, where 17 people died, but such situations are much rarer as in the US.

Not only are the gun laws tight in Germany, they are tight in most of western Europe. Most shootings are not among gangs or skinheads (there are some smaller right-wing groups here, that would be more than dangerous, if guns were readably available), but family dramas or mob related.

I can truly say, that I feel safer walking the streets in a large German city, than in Indianapolis or even in some small towns in the US.

So, let us pose the question again! Do tight gun control laws mean more safety for the citizens. All stats say yes. My experiences also say yes. Can anyone prove anything different? If not, maybe we should not only talk, but take some action to finally change the "backwards" gun laws, as many foreign newspapers have been writting.

Posted by: norm | April 18, 2007 01:13 PM

In response to the 9/11 attacks, we quickly trounced all over the 4th amendment in order to protect against future attacks.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

But in response to our annual campus shooting spree, we quickly defend "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." as justification for not limiting the sale of firearms.

Posted by: confusedinva | April 18, 2007 01:14 PM

Robert James analysis of the Second Amendment is way off base. The "right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." has nothing to do with the militia.

In the First Admendment, the right of the people is an individual right. Whenever the Constitution calls for the "right of the people" it is an individual right.

Shall we nullify the First, Second, Sixth, and Tenth Admendments? After all, big brother [the Government] is the all powerful protector of the common citizen and has never abused their power. No thanks, I'll keep my rights. You can relenquish yours if you desire Robert, but you have no right to relenquish mine.

Posted by: Joe | April 18, 2007 01:19 PM

I stopped reading the comments after the first 2 bloggers didn't know the difference between "effect" and "affect."

Posted by: Marie | April 18, 2007 01:21 PM

Interesting that the author of the original piece said we should hold off on this discussion until the dust settles and then starts in.

I own a fair number of firearms and have not killed anyone. I've been an NRA firearms SAFETY instructor for 30 plus years and I know of no student that has ever used a firearm in an unlawful way.

It is tragic that a young man regardless of his imigration status would kill som many of his fellow students. If he had not used a gun, might he have used a bomb, or other tool. Yes, a 9mm semi-automatic is a great deal of firepower, but even if he had used two revolvers, he could have done as much damage. NO ONE attempted to disarm this carzy man.

It's been pointed out that 30,000 people die by firearms each year. Only a small portion of that is homicides. About 1/3 are suicides, and about 2500 are police shootings. The accidental shooting rates have been going down for the last 10 years. It's also important to note that vehicle deaths have gone up over 40,000 per year. Cars are registered, licenses required and are not primarily a device for killing yet we do it.

Lots of people want more "gun control", but no one has come up with a law that would provide any protection. In fact where there are stricter gun control laws there is higher crime. I don't know if its the increase in private ownership of firearms or the economics of those areas with gun control that causes this, but I would not live in DC as I feel that I would be an unarmed target, while in Virginia, if some lunitic or criminal comes after me the result might not be so clear cut.

The second amendment is designed to protect the freedoms of the people, preseve the rights granted to them by the constitution and to give the people recourse should the government fail to support the liberties granted to us by the constitution.

Firearms are tools like a car or a hammer. It is the responsibility of the owner to use any tool lawfully.

RRB

Posted by: Rick Bunn | April 18, 2007 01:21 PM

As we find and sort out the increasing flow of information about the tragedy at VT maybe we can learn something to help prevent this from happening again. People who fear guns and know very little about them naturally want them banned. You have to respect their veiws. Had a police officer, teacher or responsible student trained to handle a firearm been in possesion of one at this incident it would have helped end this with less carnage. As we find out now the madman had been questioned by police for stalking, teachers were aware of his violent writings, teachers and students were aware of his antisocial behavior, he was in treatment with the campus phycologists, he had been prescribed antidepression drugs, but nobody in our polictically correct soceity did anything! Warning signe galore! Same as Columbine! We knew about this idiot but did nothing. Now the same liberal thinking that pushed all the political correctness upon us wants to ban guns as the sorce of the evil. I'll bet that if someone carrying a concealed weapon had shot this madman as he started this rampage, he would have been brought up on charges for carrying a gun in the gun free zone on campus! This same crowd would question why did you have to kill this poor hard working immigrant that just wanted a better life. Sure he was a threat but you didn't have to "kill" this poor mentally ill boy. The same liberal crowd wants no censure on the violent videos, violent rap music, MTV, violent movies that have helped spawn all this mayhem. We are poisoning our children and we know this! We do nothing! They want God out of schools, government, and their lives and then cry out there is no God because if there was this wouldn't of happened. Liberals shout they are pro-choice! They are only pro-choice when it comes to abortion. Liberals love abortion and hate capital punishment! Go figure! Liberals don't want you to have any choices such as protecting yourself, or being responsible for anything in your life because the government knows best and will take care of you from craddle to grave. I fear any lessons learned from this tragedy will again be lost in political correctness.

Posted by: Dave | April 18, 2007 01:22 PM

Are all Iraqis and other Arab students, and other students with former Yugoslavian ancestry, for example, considered dangerous, aren't they? Any one of them might decide to get even for deaths of relatives or other close people, which happened just lately with CIA and other American sources', including government inspirations. Maybe, to void such incidents as Virginia Tech we need to get rid of neo cons in power and their International policies ASAP, don't we? It seems more important then to get rid of the second amendment, isn't it?

Posted by: aepelbaum | April 18, 2007 01:39 PM

First, my question is how long will it be before Virgina Tech will be forgotten? It seems as though our nation is already forgetting the terrible acts that happenen on 9/11. As time passes only those directly involved in the shootings that took place two days ago will remember what really took place there. They will be the only one who will never stop thinking about it. The only time we hear about the controversy over gun control laws, and hi-jacked airplanes, car boms(oklahoma), school bombings,(Bath School Disaster, May 18, 1927) snipers shootings in the east, (rifle-not handgun), suicide fighter pilots(Pearl Harbor), is in the weeks and months to follow the incedent. And then in the years to come on the date of the aniversary. And after a few decades it will all but be forgotten....
I've read almost all of the coments posted here and some of them are ridiculas. Lundi posted that a Blacksburg PD said it would have been worse if students/faculty had guns, because they, the police, would just walk in there and shoot anyone with a gun. I think that officer needs to have his gun taken away. U.S. police officers are not trained to shoot first and ask questions later. Gun control is not the answer to the problem. I don't have the answer and maybe no one does. But taking away guns from those who choose to own them will only make matters worse. There are people who have had the right of driving a car, taken away from them, yet they still drive. Illegal drugs are widely used. Banning guns will not do anything to help protect our society. The people in our country who don't abide by the law do so because they don't care about the law they couldn't care less if it were illegal to own a gun or not. Its illegal for somoeone underage to buy a handgun, so if they want one they just have to talk to someone that is of age and they will have their handgun(columbine). Taking away our right to own guns will do nothing but arm the criminals. Cocaine is illegal, yet people still die from using it. Thousands die each year from smoking tobacco. Should we ban that too? Where will it end? Why didn't we ban ferilizer after what happened in Oklahoma? Because it wouldn't do any good.
I don't claim to have the answer but banning guns is not it...

Posted by: supersonic57 | April 18, 2007 01:39 PM

RRB,

Very good post. I agree that guns are tools and should be treated accordingly. That being said, I think there should be some restrictions on their purchase and use. A car is a tool, but you just don't hand over the keys to your 12 year old child. There are state licensing procedures and tests. Insurance is required and the state reserves the right to revoke that privilege when it is abused.

I don't own a gun and probably never will. I have had to carry one in the course of military assignments, but never really liked it. I do believe that we have the right to own them. I just want to be sure that my neighbor who just bought one is actually qualified to use it.

Posted by: confusedinva | April 18, 2007 01:47 PM

Can we get to the heart of the matter? Regardless of where we call home, regardless of individual politics, we are little more than players in a self-made conflict between good and evil. What makes the conflict so intense is that each of us possesses -- in varying degrees at varying times -- the capacity for both. Strip away all of the self-directed interpretations of "American" rights, and gun control is little more than an attempt my human beings
to reduce the power of evil in their lives. Isn't this the essence of much of "true" lawmaking? Isn't this the spirit behind countless laws all of us support? Until evolution or science strengthens the human brain, enabling us to appreciate and more effectively handle freedom, doesn't common sense dictate that we weaken the capacity for evil as much as we can?

Posted by: W.W. | April 18, 2007 01:48 PM

I thought this was a discussion about Virginia Tech and the tragic happenings there on Monday. What do the soldiers (men and women) in Iraq have to with any of it? One has nothing to do with the other. It is an awful thing that this world must now do without the promising minds of the students and the wise teachings of the professors. It is also terrible that the soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be able to contribute to this country's future. Stricter gun laws or not, this is still the greatest country in the world. I am not a fan of the war or the president, however, it pains me to see the animosity some writers have toward both. Let's focus on the issue at hand. The friends and families of 33 (yes, including the shooter) now have to continue on without their loved ones in their lives. My thoughts and prayers go out to them all.

Posted by: jonsmom58 | April 18, 2007 01:48 PM

I agree that there should be requirments to owning a gun. I've been through hunters safety and that not only teaches about hunting but gun awareness and safe use of guns. I also plan on getting my conceled permit. These classes take time and money. Maybe there could be a required class one must take before buying a gun. I don't know that it would work though... I know people who have been in car wrecks while driving before they were a legally allowed to do so, not because the took their moms keys and drove through the garage. But because they drive all the time. Making it harder to buy guns and requiring licenses might not work. Its hard for me to believe that requiring a license or a class would stop gun crime. I believe something needs to be done; but don't take away my guns.

Posted by: supersonic57 | April 18, 2007 01:58 PM

Everybody over 18 should carry a gun every day, everywhere. That way if anybody starts shooting the most that he can do is kill one and no 32.

Posted by: Johnnygothisgun | April 18, 2007 02:13 PM

It's remarkable that no one has mentioned non-lethal weapons as a personal means of defense. We learned from 9/11 that individual actions are the most reliable stopping power when a crime is in progress, but we haven't really pursued technologies which enable individuals to defend human life without almost certainly killing the attacker.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 18, 2007 02:39 PM

JDM, has the NRA issued talking points telling people to LIE about Australia? Because saying that gun crime has gotten worse here since the gun ban is A BIG FAT LIE.

That seems to be the tactic with the right wing, to tell amazing, bald-faced lies, no matter what the truth is. You count on getting away with it because in this day of "he said, she said" Crossfire BS fests, nobody believes what their opponent says, and the facts matter nothing to them. Happened with the war in Iraq, happens with gun control, happens all over.

You're either telling a deliberate whopper, or you're deluded into believing something that's not true because it fits with your prejudices. But the fact is, gun control works in Australia. It's safer here than it is in the United States.

I grew up in the U.S. but I live Down Under now, mate. I read the papers; I watch the TV. On the rare times when there IS a gun murder in Australia, that's big news, because it's such an oddity. Melbourne local TV carries items if there's a shooting murder in Brisbane, which is like a Nw Orleans station having something about a single murder in Boston. The cities are that far apart, but the mere fact that it happened is unusual enough to warrant mention.

You gun-lovers won't change your mind, but I don't particularly care. I'm happy to live in a land where I don't have to worry that someone in another car is going to shoot me because they don't like the way I'm driving, or that the rowdy drunken Aussie Rules football fans are going to stick a muzzle in my face because my team's cap offends them. You people have no idea what a sick, violent society you live in. Just like childen from a family where the parents are drunk or violent, you gro up thinking that that's normal; all families are like that.

Well, they aren't, and neither are all countries like the violent States. Honestly, you people remind me of the North Koreans, who think that everything is peachy in their country while they're boiling up grass soup to keep from starving. It's all they, and you, know.

You're welcome to your weapons, and to live in a land where there's more and more senseless mass violence. The U.S. is a crumbling dystopia, and murder mania is a symptom. Good luck, my (former) fellow Americans, and don't forget to duck!

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | April 18, 2007 03:04 PM

Go to the link, bukko. None of the words were mine. They were a direct quote from World News Daily. I agree that their being posted online does not signify their necessary truth....but do you have *facts*, other than your firsthand observation, to contradict them?

Out of curiosity... while you were living in the US, how many times did you have a muzzle stuck in your face? How many times were you held up on your way home from a football game? Just curious....

Posted by: JDM | April 18, 2007 03:37 PM

Someone claimed to google Australian crime rate to see how the banning of handguns has been a failure. I did, just that, and foud a chart at www.timlambert.org, which shows violence with handguns down for various crimes between 50-70%

Looks like the ban did make the streets safer. Imagine that.

Posted by: Jerry D | April 18, 2007 04:07 PM

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=21902

Where do you CLAIM to have gotten your facts?

Posted by: JDM | April 18, 2007 04:35 PM

Oh, I see... timlambert.org. I thought it might have been gunsarereallybad.net.

Posted by: JDM | April 18, 2007 04:55 PM

I am not a supporter of taking away guns from anyone who legally has a right to possess them--although I do not have any. In fact I find the conditions on handgun licensing imposed by the county in which I live (Nassau County, Long Island) to be onerous and unnecessary.

Gun control advocates who try to use this incident to further their own goals are guilty of sensationalizing this tragedy and are being unrealistic: a total handgun ban is never going to happen.

But anyone who thinks that liberalizing (enjoy the word) concealed- or open-carry laws is in any way a solution to incidents like this is even more of a fool.

Let's say the gunman had been stopped after he killed 3 or 4 people because armed students had been able to shoot him. You're up 30 lives.

Now factor in the number of additional deaths you'd get on an annual basis from allowing students to carry guns on college campuses, or postal employees or whoever. As we all know, college students rarely ever drink, fight, or engage in any sort of foolish behavior. And road rage incidents are scarce, and people all exercise the best judgement in their own self-defense and NEVER overreact.

There is no way to stop incidents like this without taking away freedoms that we take for granted.

RRB: Drop the silly strawman arguments. Cars are a necessity for virtually everyone to do what needs to be done on a daily basis. The chances that a given individual will ever need a gun for self-defense are vanishly small: almost certainly less than 1 incident per indivudal per lifetime.

Posted by: Michael R | April 18, 2007 04:59 PM

That Worldnet Daily article is bogus. I'm fairly liberal and a gun owner. However I know how those who seek to win an argument tilt statistics to support them. It's intellectually dishonest to do so. However, I can understand your confusion. Be weary of statistics as this article points out.
http://www.snopes.com/crime/statistics/ausguns.asp

Posted by: guitar_blue | April 18, 2007 05:22 PM

JDM, I went to the link, but I didn't put much stock in it. I have the same regard for the truthfulness of Worldnet Daily as I did for the Weekly World News tabloid at the supermarket checkout counter.

I was lucky during my 47 years in the U.S. Never had a gun in my face. During the 10 years I spent as a newspaper reporter, I can't tell you how many hundreds of murder stories I covered, and the police blotter items of everyday shootings were like baseball box scores. I changed careers and now I'm a registered nurse (that's how I could immigrate here on a work visa) and I had a lot of patients in U.S. hospitals with gunshot wounds, paralysis from spinal shots (a favourite revenge tactic for gangs) and suicide attempts. After working two years at the large city public hospital in Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, the only patients I've had with gunshot histories are some old Diggers who got them fighting the Japs.

Anecdotal evidence, yes, but I trust what I see from my own experience when the pattern is so clear. There IS a better way out there. It's sad the U.S. won't go down that path, though.

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | April 18, 2007 05:45 PM

Thanks for the Snopes link, Guitar. now THEM I trust!

Posted by: Bukko again | April 18, 2007 05:48 PM

Instead of correcting problems, we just have one big emotional party and continue on as usual. The victims are soon forgotten and a new set of victims appear.
There will be no big crash when this country falls, it will just be a wimper.
Life will not go on but the meaningless universe will laugh at our stupidity.

Posted by: morel1Bel | April 18, 2007 07:57 PM

Dear US Citizens, immigrants, refugees, resident and non-resident aliens, foreign nationals, undocumented workers, military personnel, government representatives and everyone on the left, right or top of the gun control fence:

FIRST:

Yes, let's outlaw guns and fix the massacre problem. Let's call it the War on Guns. It will prevent most future violence, just as our War on Drugs virtually eliminated chemical dependency and addiction. Besides, how can you throw a massacre without guns? Who would come? And no bringing up the Holocaust, that is just SO 50 years ago. Or whatever.

We could even do it without stomping too hard on the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights - or was that the Constitution? (We didn't focus on that too long in school, but I sure remember the words to the song "We shall overcome" taught every January 15th or so.) Anyway who said Guns have to be included in the Arms which we have the Right to Bear?

Not that many of us are too concerned about that ratty old document (is it really printed on hemp? Gracious, throw the hairy thing out. No don't - the kids will roll it up and smoke it). We clearly haven't let it get in the way of us enjoying the benefits of taxes, government spying I mean survelliance, and undeclared war. Ahem.

"We'll now discontinue our regularly scheduled programming." Shall we?


The Right to Bear Arms includes the right to bear whatever technology affords us the ability to protect ourselves - not necessarily guns - from those who would trespass against us, both violent individuals and an unruly government.

Many of us agree that the killing technology our government possesses not only is inappropriate for the scale and nature of citizens' daily situations or budget, but would easily overpower anything that is. Therefore I will focus on the purpose of self protection.

Guns no longer fit the Bill, no gun intended. I mean...

Guns are an outdated technology due to the following characteristics:

1. Widespread misuse
2. Excessive ease with which permanently and temporarily emotionally unstable persons can access and use them for purposes not intended by the Second Amendment
3. Their lack of ease of use and storage by those who possess them responsibly and would put them to appropriate use
4. The uneasiness for those who want nothing to do with them and are made uncomfortable by their presence and the accompanying charged atmosphere
5. The excessive focus on them by the popular media and the resulting iconic status leading to inappropriate ownership and use

What is called for is THE DEVELOPMENT OF SUITABLE ARMS that make it easy to protect ourselves but not easy to take a life. These arms must be easy for even the young, elderly and inexperienced to store, carry, access, use, secure, and afford.

SECOND:

I want the media to explain to me why a shock jock who gets paid to have a bad sense of humor was fired for comments that were interpreted as racist, while movie moguls who know that humans model behavior after what they see, are free to churn out graphic variations of all the creative ways we can violate one another. At least the shock jock was not promoting physical harm.

The First Amendment "guarantees" freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The press is the collection of channels through which we receive information about what is happening so that we can lead our lives and participate in government accordingly.

The Press - newspaper, TV news, internet, and other forms of journalism - exists to communicate Reality. (No comment on their report cards). FICTIONAL MOVIES ARE NOT PRESS! (An Inconvenient Truth, the Pelican Brief, Schindler's List, Alice in Wonderland, and Thank You for Smoking, etc. duly noted). Neither is prime time or pornography. Nor are they really speech per se - they are electronic images depicting fictional sceanarios.

(Whatever happened to the classy style of Alfred Hitchcock and his suggested yet unportrayed violence, successful in getting the story told without scarring our minds with bloody imagery?)

Does anyone really think kids and even adults can watch all this violence in movies and prime time, and not get ideas? Ideas are images and thoughts we hold in our head; what do we act on if not our thoughts? Sure, some people value the cathartic release they get from violent games and movies and yet have the emotional stability not to copycat, but obviously a few do not...and a few is all it takes.

If a gradeschool teacher, for no apparent purpose, or for 'entertainment' purposes, or for the purpose that it made her 'popular' and is 'what sells' or for WHATEVER purpose... taught your child to use a gun to kill someone, and your child proceeded to obtain and use gun to kill someone...WOULD YOU NOT HOLD THE TEACHER RESPONSIBLE? The media IS a teacher...to which kids and adults alike pay more attention than they do to school instructors!

If someone can't publicly speak their mind or joke about groups or individuals without being charged with slander or racism, then WHY SHOULD THE MEDIA BE ALLOWED TO COMMIT 3RD PARTY MANSLAUGHTER? I charge them with no less.

If the 11 o'clock newscaster is disallowed from so much as engaging in profanity, we can certainly revoke from Hollyweird our permission to pollute our environment with the images that some disturbed "artists" cook up during their cocaine luncheons. We don't let manufacturers excessively dump into our air and water; why should we let the media defile our brains ?

Who would have guessed that the First and Second Amendments would come toe to toe? If we have to choose between our already hogtied "freedom of speech & press" and taking responsibility for our social atmosphere so that it does not promote unnecessary violence...which one will we choose?

We enjoy a luxury suite of rights in the United States. What concessions are we willing to make in order to achieve the basics, to improve our safety and happiness in all places public and private?

I feel toward the gun issue as I do toward abortion. I think it's sad that it is even an issue, and I am neither for nor against it. One thing I have noticed for sure, is that when there are two camps passionately arguing a yes/no debate, that is a clue a more elegant, multi-faceted solution is around the corner.

In almost any crime there are at least five elements: a victim, a weapon, a motive, a perpetrator and a law. With a tripod strategy of rallying for more advanced self-protection devices, demanding a more dignified media, and being more proactive in addressing the needs of noticeably disturbed individuals (too simple to discuss here), we will surely see a significant reduction in the most important one of those elements. I will let you figure out which one that is.


I ISSUE A CALL TO HOLD TECHNOLOGY AND MEDIA TO THE HIGHER STANDARDS WE DESERVE.

Sincerely,

Gunner Smith

Comments and hate mail gladly accepted at gunner.down@gmail.com

Posted by: gunner | April 19, 2007 02:27 AM

`Firearms are tools like a car or a hammer. It is the responsibility of the owner to use any tool lawfully.`

Respectfully, Mr. Bunn, I would like to suggest that guns are NOT tools, just like cars or hammers. Cars are tools to get you from A to B; hammers are tools for driving nails. Guns, however, are tools for killing, plain and simple.

Posted by: | April 19, 2007 04:48 AM

The school administration stated that they thought the first shootings were simply a domestic dispute and they had no way of predicting that the later massacre would ensue. This is a typical expression of society's failure to recognize the lethality of perpetrators of violence against women. No indication of future violence because it was "Only a domestic dispute?????" Any police officer in the country will tell you that domestic disturbances are the most dangerous. One can find instances almost every day of abusive husbands/partners killing their wives, then children, and then turning the gun on themselves. EVERY day! Furthermore, it is a proven fact that access to firearms increases lethality for domestic abuse victims dramatically. This student was stalking women at this school long before he committed this vicious, vile act. Every indication of dangerousness was there. Typically, society failed to see it because it was merely a "domestic" conflict.

Posted by: | April 19, 2007 02:09 PM

Many people here are calling on the Second Amendment for their right to carry arms. Could it be that the Second Amendment is a outdated. Our Founding Fathers were definitely very intelligent and had good foresight, but EVEN THEY could not foresee what technology would bring. The mass-production and automation of guns could not be predicted. Therefore it is up to us to change our constitution, in order to take the modern world into consideration.

That does not mean totally outlawing guns. That does mean reducing the availability . Here in Germany, it is possible to get guns for hunting and sports. Why can't we do that here. It is also necessary to take a gun safety class and get a license. Furthermore, there are only a few stores that are allowed to sell guns. No one can go to the local Walmart and buy a gun. You must also belong to a hunting or sports organization to buy one too. The law is not perfect, but it is much better than the current US laws.

Before anyone says this is just another opinion of a foriegner, I would like to point out, that I am an American and grew up there.

I have experienced someone shooting wildly as a teenager, and that by someone I knew. He had just been in a fight and lost. He went home, got his father's gun and wanted to shoot this person. At the same time he was very angery and was crying. The biggest problem was, that he shot around on a full playground with about 50 people present.

The purpose of this story is, that anger and a gun is all that one needs in order to cause major problems.

He did not want to shoot anyone but his enemy, but in the process, he could have easily killed one of us. It was just a matter of luck, that we spotted him, before he got off his first shot and were able to hide in bushes, behind the school, or leave the playground completely. Nevertheless, he got of at least 3 or 4 shots, before he came to his senses.

See, gun control is not just theoretic or statistic, it is also something that has to do with real life. THINK ABOUT IT!!!!

Posted by: Norm | April 20, 2007 03:16 AM

Want I want to know is HOW this guy was allowed to get his hands on a deadly weapon? If anything, background checks need to be more rigorous; this guy had a long history of disturbing incidents.

And, if you think there would have been less death had the students been armed, think again. When the first shots went off, and say 3 armed students had rushed to the incident and killed the shooter in a hail of bullets, how the hell were other students not to know that THEY were the shooters? The whole thing would have spiralled out of control due to misconception. There simply must be non-lethal ways to defend yourself.

Posted by: Anon. | April 24, 2007 04:06 PM

Ban guns. Ban violent movies and music lyrics. Or should we just arm everyone so that everyone will have a fighting (or shooting) chance when confronted by an armed gunman? These are all options, but none of them would prevent someone bent on killing another person from doing so. As one writer above pointed out, murderers have been amongst us since man learned to walk on two legs. The shooter in the Va. Tech killings was alienated (or felt like he was) from the more affluent students. This of course does not justify his actions, but many Americans are brought up to believe that if we don't become wealthy or famous (ideally both) then we have somehow failed ourselves and our parents. It might be fruitful if we paid more attention to the values we instil in our children, particularly those pertaining to the American dream that goes roughly like this: wealth = success." But then again this avenue may be no more effectual in curbing violence than banning violent films. Violence will always be a part of American life (with or without guns), and that is the sad, unfortunate reality.

Posted by: John V. | May 1, 2007 11:29 PM

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