Avoid the Trap of Self-Condemnation

By Ben Wattenberg
The American Enterprise Institute

The events at Virginia Tech were truly terrible. We grieve for the students, their friends and families. We don't know what forces drove the troubled student Che Seung Hui, but we should not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of self-condemnation.

After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963, many pundits asked plaintively "What has become of America?" The outpouring of "We are all guilty" that followed was uncalled for and counter-productive.

After 9/11, some opinion shapers said, "Why do they hate us so?"

These events have counterparts in modern history, events that are often more intense, with greater ferocity and much worse results.

America is no longer a six-gun-toting, slap leather society. Nor are we particularly violent. Since the civil war we have not afflicted great violence on other Americans. Nor is our crime rate particularly high as ranked among the countries of the world.

Most of our states now have "Right to Carry" laws that lower violent crime rather than raising it. As John Lott has pointed out in "More Guns Less Crime", criminals are afraid of their own injury by a not-so-helpless victim.

And so, perhaps counter-intuitively, after these horrific events, there is not much we can or should do. We are doing fine.

Posted by Michael Corones |  April 18, 2007; 5:22 PM ET
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Comments

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"As John Lott has pointed out in 'More Guns Less Crime', criminals are afraid of their own injury by a not-so-helpless victim."

What, you mean John "I write positive reviews for my own book using a female pseudonym, and oh by the way the dog ate my research data" Lott?

Posted by: AJL | April 18, 2007 06:49 PM

A recently published study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that states with higher rates of gun ownership have higher homicide rates, controlling for levels of urbanization, income, etc. (Previous studies found suicide rates - not just suicide-by-gun rates - were also higher.)

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2007-releases/press01112007.html

Posted by: Judith Yeaton | April 18, 2007 07:54 PM

the often used argument by gun advocates "guns don't kill people... people kill people," is one of those things that might sound good, but makes no sense when you actually think about it.

yes it is true people do kill people. but ask yourself this question. If Cho were only able to wield a knife do you think he would have been able to kill 30 people?

Posted by: hiveof5 | April 18, 2007 07:55 PM

I quote, "Nor is our crime rate particularly high as ranked among the countries of the world".
Exactly what is Ben Wattenberg's definition of crime, and what countries is he comparing the United States too?
You mean the murder-by-gun rates in the US aren't dramatically higher than in other Western countries? Really?

Posted by: Rob Battistuzzi | April 18, 2007 10:04 PM

what do you expect from a NeoCon. The man is incapable of any sort of compassion. I was wondering how soon into his piece he would spout NRA policy.
Shame on you.

Posted by: tdaniels | April 18, 2007 10:52 PM

I see that the Washington Post invited only members of right wing think tanks to comment here. I mean:
The Manhattan Institute, The Hudson Institute, RAND (lovely home of Donald Rumsfeld & Condi Rice), American Enterprise Institute

...every single one a right wing think tank!!

That is very biased. If I couldn't see the headline, I would think this is the Washington Times.

Seriously, this is an important subject, and diversity is important. Please do a better job!!

Posted by: dissent | April 18, 2007 11:09 PM

Good point dissent. Pathetic choice of right wing comments.

Posted by: Henry Shires | April 18, 2007 11:14 PM

Fine gems of neocon non-sense: "America is no longer a six-gun-toting, slap leather society. Nor are we particularly violent. Since the civil war we have not afflicted great violence on other Americans. Nor is our crime rate particularly high as ranked among the countries of the world." "And so, perhaps counter-intuitively, after these horrific events, there is not much we can or should do. We are doing fine."

What are the criteria to hire "researchers" at the AEI? No wonder why everything went wrong in Iraq.

Posted by: Frank NY | April 18, 2007 11:20 PM

I agree, dissent. What is the Post doing here? I could sense the knee-jerk rightwing pro-gun reaction as soon as I heard the news of this tragedy, so I didn't need to have it handed to me by a respected newspaper. If you're going to print this stuff, at least balance it out.

Posted by: wtf | April 18, 2007 11:22 PM

Gun control works. Guns were banned from V Tech campus. Those poor people are not really dead, and the gun control crowd is not really dancing in their blood.

Posted by: Vinnie | April 18, 2007 11:48 PM

This comment by this so-called scholar from a pay-per-view think tank is among the most pathetic things I have ever read.

"We are doing fine?" Yes, and we're winning the war in Iraq, and the response to Katrina was a smashing success.

I forgot -- we are living in the best of all possible worlds, right?

Posted by: tom | April 19, 2007 12:21 AM

This "think tank page", portrayed as a reaction to these killings, is the most disapointing think I have ever seen affiliated with the Washington Post.

Someone needs to complain. Are the editors of the Post even aware of this page, and do they realise how bad it is? It is an embarassment to the paper.

Posted by: this page | April 19, 2007 12:57 AM

As night follows day, there is now a hue and cry to ban all personal ownership of firearms. Banning all personal ownership of guns only bans them for use by law-abiding people -- such a ban was ALREADY in effect within the VT campus boundaries. Criminals and nutcases will have total contempt for any such ban, as Cho did, and will find ways around it. He had 15-shot-magazine repeater pistols -- which are actually not legal even under Virginia*s allegedly-lax gun laws. Look how successful Prohibition was in eliminating alcoholism, and how successful our present *War On Drugs* has been in stopping people from getting stoned! Human evil cannot be eradicated by wild-eyed knee-jerk nanny-state laws. Education, counseling, and better emergency response might have helped to prevent this VT tragedy. Getting the word out to the VT community two hours sooner would certainly have saved some lives. And a SANE student packing a gun might have been able to save some lives by taking out the killer sooner. To state my bias, I have never owned a gun and never intend to, but I do believe that the US Constitution means what it says in plain English -- including the Second Amendment. Are the anti-gun folks up for promoting a new Constitutional Amendment, to revoke the Second Amendment?

Posted by: oldhonky | April 19, 2007 01:47 AM

The USA needs to bite the bullet and ban private gun ownership, especially automatics etc. They need to follow overseas examples [eg Australia]. They dont have "the right to bare arms" and they dont have carnage on campuses.

Posted by: James | April 19, 2007 02:07 AM

Hey, Old Honky: I don't know how old you are, but I doubt you were around when the Second Amendment to the Constitution was enacted. If you were, you would realize that the arms which they were speaking about were muskets! When was the last time you heard of an individual taking out 32 innocent lives with a musket! If the founding fathers could have looked into a crystal ball and seen the debth of the destruction and carnaige that modern assult weapons have on today's society (and not just with respect to this one VT incident) I'm sure in their wisdome, they would amend the Constitution to repeal the 2nd Amendment.

Posted by: JC | April 19, 2007 02:09 AM

You are right about that, JC. Maybe the 2nd Amendment should simply be amended to guarantee to right to bear muskets.

Posted by: Anthony | April 19, 2007 02:20 AM

Blame Creative Writing by One that does not have the Ability to be a Great Writer!

I think the media and the viewers need not get confused with the term Korean-American or Asian-American when referring to this insane Korean immigrant man that was a student at Virginia Tech. An Asian-American and/or Korean-American is one whom is either born in the United States; has at least one parent that is American; or has attained his American Citizenship.

Lay blame on Cho, not Asian Americans...He was not American? Why do you want him to be American so bad when you deny Americans of (Native American Hispanic origin) their nationality of being American? The American Nationality is not a freebie! If I went to live in Korea for 100 years they would not call me Korean... I would be an American. Use language the way it should be used or change your language.

This Korean immigrant man should not have been allowed to buy guns. The American Constitution proclaims the Rights of Americans (Citizens) to bear Arms not Residents! What's the matter, has everyone forgotten how to read plain English? Can foreign-born resident enemies (possible terrorists) buy guns at two for one at police blue-light-special prices?

We have enough problems with Home Grown Nazi Terrorists (Anti-American Germanic National Socialist Ideology Movement*) stocking up Arms in America to have Islamo-Fascists start up a copycat stockpile of American Legal Self-Defense Toys! What did Cho mean by the praise "Ismail Ax"... sounds inspired by anti-American Islamo-Fascism as does his tan vest on black shirt! Am I the only one that analyzes for free? Cho was avenging what Korean sex-toy for American Military troops stationed in Korea? Get what I mean??? This person did not feel American because he was not American, and he did not become American because of his political Anti-American Society viewpoints... Just like Bearded Bin Laden...

Oh so because he is Asian he is accepted as (almost) American and considered an intelligent person even when he can't speak or write English at expected university level. And after reading Cho Seung-Hui's Plays on Ian MacFarlane's web page (http://news.aol.com/virginia-tech-shootings/cho-seung-hui/_a/richard-mcbeef-cover-page/20070417134109990001 ). I think Cho's professor(s), whom stated that Crazy Cho was intelligent uses the word without much reflection. One is not intelligent unless one can see reality, not crazy like a fox, just plain crazy! Banana Split baby! I am Cho, I am different, I am ? Use a little Chicano-Jew Psychoanalysis, why don't you, it might just wake you from a dream and help you avoid another nightmare!

This Korean immigrant scholarship/Grant hog was sucking up American financial aid for education and was angry because of what? See what educational financial aid an American living in Korea gets and this will make you go ballistic baby!!!

Anyway, I feel for the dead American Kids and am only sorry someone did not take Cho out on the streets of the hood before he attacked our sweet university babes!!! Cho did not belong at a university. If this were a case of a bitter inner-city barrio gangster kid, I do not think so many would be so eager to understand the mind of a kid defending his life on a turf-war night, I mean, have you ever been attacked by Nazi Skin Heads in your own neighborhood park in the dark for being a little dark? The Barrio has self-defense Sephardies, and a new holocaust will not be happen without blood on both sides! If this were a case of a bitter inner-city street gangster kid, I do not think so many would be so eager to understand a kid defending his life against a hostile Nazi gang! Cho was a Nazi* Korean considered American even though that is what he was out to kill!

My name is Alexander living in Spain (born and raised in the Hood of America) but more American than the Average Cat! You can call me Alexander of the Natives!!! Long Live Zion!

*See World War II and Axis Powers = American Enemy

http://scfire-nyk0l-2.stream.aol.com:80/stream/1065

Posted by: Alexander | April 19, 2007 04:35 AM

The media and the pundits have got this one all wrong. They are going on and on about the murderer's antisocial personality and his aberrant behavior. What's the point of all this? One can't pigeonhole personality types. An unsmiling demeanor or an unfreindly carriage doesn't imply a murderous bend of mind as much as a friendly, social disposition does not necessarily mean an embodiment of virtue or absence of vice and malicious intent -- Ted Bundy comes to mind. Where are we going with this psychological profiling? Are we going to put away Pat Robertson for alluding to eliminate the Venezuelan strongman Chavez? Mental illness cannot be legislated just as it cannot be wished away. History has had its share of violently deranged and murderous individuals who have wreaked unimaginable death and destruction on humanity. In all cases, you take away their instrument of inflicting death and mayhem - namely guns - and you have effectively neutralized them.

Posted by: Sanjay Saxena | April 19, 2007 04:43 AM

Blame Creative Writing by One that does not have the Ability to be a Great Writer!

I think the media and the viewers need not get confused with the term Korean-American or Asian-American when referring to this insane Korean immigrant man that was a student at Virginia Tech. An Asian-American and/or Korean-American is one whom is either born in the United States; has at least one parent that is American; or has attained his American Citizenship.

Lay blame on Cho, not Asian Americans...He was not American? Why do you want him to be American so bad when you deny Americans of (Native American Hispanic origin) their nationality of being American? The American Nationality is not a freebie! If I went to live in Korea for 100 years they would not call me Korean... I would be an American. Use language the way it should be used or change your language.

This Korean immigrant man should not have been allowed to buy guns. The American Constitution proclaims the Rights of Americans (Citizens) to bear Arms not Residents! What's the matter, has everyone forgotten how to read plain English? Can foreign-born resident enemies (possible terrorists) buy guns at two for one at police blue-light-special prices?

We have enough problems with Home Grown Nazi Terrorists (Anti-American Germanic National Socialist Ideology Movement*) stocking up Arms in America to have Islamo-Fascists start up a copycat stockpile of American Legal Self-Defense Toys! What did Cho mean by the praise "Ismail Ax"... sounds inspired by anti-American Islamo-Fascism as does his tan vest on black shirt! Am I the only one that analyzes for free? Cho was avenging what Korean sex-toy for American Military troops stationed in Korea? Get what I mean??? This person did not feel American because he was not American, and he did not become American because of his political Anti-American Society viewpoints... Just like Bearded Bin Laden...

Oh so because he is Asian he is accepted as (almost) American and considered an intelligent person even when he can't speak or write English at expected university level. And after reading Cho Seung-Hui's Plays on Ian MacFarlane's web page (http://news.aol.com/virginia-tech-shootings/cho-seung-hui/_a/richard-mcbeef-cover-page/20070417134109990001 ). I think Cho's professor(s), whom stated that Crazy Cho was intelligent uses the word without much reflection. One is not intelligent unless one can see reality, not crazy like a fox, just plain crazy! Banana Split baby! I am Cho, I am different, I am ? Use a little Chicano-Jew Psychoanalysis, why don't you, it might just wake you from a dream and help you avoid another nightmare!

This Korean immigrant scholarship/Grant hog was sucking up American financial aid for education and was angry because of what? See what educational financial aid an American living in Korea gets and this will make you go ballistic baby!!!

Anyway, I feel for the dead American Kids and am only sorry someone did not take Cho out on the streets of the hood before he attacked our sweet university babes!!! Cho did not belong at a university. If this were a case of a bitter inner-city barrio gangster kid, I do not think so many would be so eager to understand the mind of a kid defending his life on a turf-war night, I mean, have you ever been attacked by Nazi Skin Heads in your own neighborhood park in the dark for being a little dark? The Barrio has self-defense Sephardies, and a new holocaust will not be happening without blood on both sides! If this were a case of a bitter inner-city street gangster kid, I do not think so many would be so eager to understand a kid defending his life against a hostile Nazi gang! Cho was a Nazi* Korean considered American even though that is what he was out to kill!

My name is Alexander living in Spain (born and raised in the Hood of America) but more American than the Average Cat! You can call me Alexander of the Natives!!! Long Live Zion!

*See World War II and Axis Powers = American Enemy

http://scfire-nyk0l-2.stream.aol.com:80/stream/1065

Posted by: Alexander | April 19, 2007 04:55 AM

The man lied when he bought the gun. What is the sense of asking for information that is not verified?
eg: consider the following eye test:
"Can you read the last line?"
"Sure."
"OK. Next question."
Maybe mental illness that disqualifies a person for certain purchases has to become public record. Yep. That is a big big step.

Posted by: gberke | April 19, 2007 05:35 AM

Wattenberg.
Gee. Remember when Jewish people used to be presumed liberal? Or at least thoughtful? Not prone to violence? Was that not so?
Wattenberg: yuck.

Posted by: gberke | April 19, 2007 05:40 AM

If the kid couldn't buy guns he'd have probably built a bomb and it could have been much worse.

Posted by: Trish | April 19, 2007 05:45 AM

Typical liberals responses. Word to all the liberals: UTOPIA doesn't exist. Ban all the guns you want, the bad guys will find ways to get them. Laws are for the law-abiding. When you get rid of the PREY, you get rid of the PREDATOR. Your feminization of America is to blame. You hate the war in Iraq because it's killing our kids while 30,000 people die every year here in the US in some sort of violent act. This is a behavioral problem, and therefore, we need to change the behavior of the criminal: tougher jail time (no cable), MORE jail time, conceal-and-carry for LAW-ABIDING citizens, and less liberal hypocrisy and utopian ideals.

Posted by: Dave | April 19, 2007 05:59 AM

English teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools have uniquely personal access to the minds of children through their writings. Every English teacher has worried about such "alert" papers, and in our county, we are required by law to forward these papers to guidance. Nonetheless, I have a student who owns dozens of guns, who has a matchstick temper, who talks with relish of blowing the heads off of animals. Everyone knows this, guidance, administration, his parents. But his parents approve of his owning guns because it is what he wants. I'll bet that Cho's parents were warned when he went to Centreville and Westfield High, and that nothing serious was done to fix that horribly disturbed and sick boy.

Posted by: English teacher | April 19, 2007 06:02 AM

The shooter was an animal, plain and simple and if everyone were not afraid of their own shadows or getting sued , or if even 1 murdered student had a gun with him, this might not have happened.Society has a right to protect itself from the garbage that masquerades as human.

Posted by: Winters | April 19, 2007 06:09 AM

I'm putting my money on Dave living in a virginia suburb.

Posted by: wtf | April 19, 2007 06:29 AM

If Cho had used a bomb laced with radioisotopes from the university physics dept., or a fertilizer bomb such as Timothy McVeigh used in OK, we would all be wondering where the Department of Homeland Security was and why Cho was not stopped. But since this mass murder was performed with a gun, a semi-automatic gun, bought legally, there is no concern that this was done with a weapon of mass destruction, no need for DHS to become involved, its just a local crime.

History will look back on this time and wonder how we equated semi-automatics with knives. The semi-automatic gun is a WMD and needs to be legislated. Cho would have done less damage with an RPG, a bazooka, or even a tank, none of which people in this country, in spite of the 2nd ammendment, are allowed to own. But the semi-automatic is, for some reason, considered benevolent, not as destructive as a tank or RPG. It is time to rate weapons on their destructive capacity and their potential for mass murder, and keep those with WMD capability out of the hands of the sane, and the insane, since this case proves we cannot distinguish between the two.

Posted by: Fate | April 19, 2007 07:09 AM

Dave wrote:
---This is a behavioral problem, and therefore, we need to change the behavior of the criminal: tougher jail time (no cable), MORE jail time, conceal-and-carry for LAW-ABIDING citizens, and less liberal hypocrisy and utopian ideals.---

But wouldn't that raise taxes? More jail time means more jails, more guards, more money spent. Its always amazed me how conservatives do not want government to intrude on our lives and feel taxes are just the government stealing our hard earned money, yet they want government to do these things, for free I guess. I'm not disagreeing with your statement, just that its not thought through. Would you pay more taxes to see longer jail sentances and more jails to hold all of these people?

Posted by: Fate | April 19, 2007 07:14 AM

Winter wrote:
---Society has a right to protect itself from the garbage that masquerades as human.---

According to the NRA's interpretation of the 2nd ammendment, your only right is to own a gun. You cannot stop any citizen from purchasing one and Cho had a right to buy the ones he bought. So, society, based on the NRA's second ammendment interpretation, has no right to protect itself.

Posted by: Fate | April 19, 2007 07:19 AM

Trish wrote:
---If the kid couldn't buy guns he'd have probably built a bomb and it could have been much worse.---

But building and possessing a bomb is illegal. Do you understand that what Cho did, up until when he pulled the trigger, was all legal?

Posted by: Fate | April 19, 2007 07:23 AM

Despite the saturating coverage of this story, one question has not been answered: Where did he learn to shoot?
One does not simply buy a pistol and shoot with the reported accuracy without significant practice.
Was he taught by a local gun club? Did he practice at the VT shooting range?

Posted by: Observer | April 19, 2007 07:26 AM

Vinnie wrote:
---Gun control works. Guns were banned from V Tech campus. Those poor people are not really dead, and the gun control crowd is not really dancing in their blood.---

But freedom to buy guns, even semi automatics, obviously does not work. It protected no one from Cho. The NRA argument that freedom to own guns protects people was proven wrong here, as it is in almost every case of gun violence. The NRA today is hiding behind the blood as they push to make more profits for gun makers.

Posted by: Fate | April 19, 2007 07:28 AM

America is no longer a six-gun-toting, slap leather society. False. Look no further than the banditos in the White House. Nor are we particularly violent. False. American gun violence is ten times higher per capita than developed nations. Since the civil war we have not afflicted great violence on other Americans. False. American gun violence is ten times higher per capita than developed nations and pogroms and lynchings continue on US soil and are ignored by the media. Nor is our crime rate particularly high as ranked among the countries of the world. False. American gun violence is ten times higher per capita than developed nations.

Posted by: The Deciderizer | April 19, 2007 07:59 AM

Ben Wattenberg amazingly wrote:
---Most of our states now have "Right to Carry" laws that lower violent crime rather than raising it.---

This is based on JOhn Lott's writings. You need some education, read this:
http://crab.rutgers.edu/~goertzel/mythsofmurder.htm
and this website shows the arrest records of Texans who were permitted to carry guns legally, but were later arrested for various crimes with revocation or suspension of their Texas Concealed Handgun Licenses, which should give us all some pause in thinking allowing concealed guns a good thing:
http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/chl/basis.htm

---As John Lott has pointed out in "More Guns Less Crime", criminals are afraid of their own injury by a not-so-helpless victim.---

Do you understand that Cho was NOT a criminal? He had no criminal history. He was mentally ill. People who are mentally ill will not care whether other people are carrying guns, and, in many cases including this one, do not care about their own lives. Bringing up "criminals" when no criminal exists in this case is pure and simple diversion.

---And so, perhaps counter-intuitively, after these horrific events, there is not much we can or should do. We are doing fine.---

Yes, everyone in Blacksburg is just happy as can be. Make sure a Muslim cannot buy a firecracker, but do nothing to stop the gun industry from making mass murder as easy as buying a pack of gum.

Posted by: Fate | April 19, 2007 08:11 AM

No don't let's fall into the trap of self condemnation. Let's just leave everything as it is and wait for the next shooting outrage. There will be one, they happen every month. M In fact they are statistically inevitable when you give 300 million people unfettered access to powerful firearms. While the percentage of Americans with serious mental health problems may be small in absolute numbers it's millions, so incidents like this become statistically inevitable like highway pileups. It's that simple.

Posted by: John | April 19, 2007 08:12 AM

most states that have right to carry laws have less violent crime?try telling that to residents of philadelphia.

Posted by: t cunningham | April 19, 2007 09:14 AM

Disregard this essay -- Avoid and Cho are both misspelled. Some brainiac.

Posted by: | April 19, 2007 09:22 AM

Winters wrote:
---The shooter was an animal, plain and simple and if everyone were not afraid of their own shadows or getting sued , or if even 1 murdered student had a gun with him, this might not have happened---

The shooter was mentally ill, not an animal.

The reason he was allowed to purchase two semi automatic guns was the local government's fear of the NRA working against legislation to protect the students and others from people like Cho having free access to hand guns. When we realize that the NRA exists to ehance the profits of gunmakers at the expense of our security, things may change. I'm not for banning guns, but I am for controlling them, especially semi and fully automatic weapons which are as destructive as any bomb or other illegal weapon in terms of the lives it can take. The question in my mind is where should the line be drawn. I think we all agree bombs should be banned. And missles and RPGs. I think semi automatics should be on the banned side of the line. The NRA however will do its job to ensure the gunmakers sell as many as possible.

Posted by: Fate | April 19, 2007 09:29 AM

Logic dictates that if someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, YOU should be able to defend yourself with a gun as well. That logic is from the Dali Lama.
This kid was crazy but, the college outlawed guns on campus so HE was the only one armed. The NRA believes that everyone should be armed to protect us from people just like this.
Without the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, we become SLAVES to those who retain that right, be they criminals or the Government. Therefore, without the Second Amendment, all the others won't exist for long.
Look at the UK, they outlawed guns so now they are outlawing free speech.
Do not just limit crime research to gun crimes when you compare world crime rates. The U.S. is not even in the top ten for violent crime when ALL violent crime is included. Australia ranks right near the top, along with the UK.

Posted by: Richard D. | April 19, 2007 09:34 AM

During the Vietnam War, almost every family in South Vietnam had guns in their home, and I don't remember anyone shooting students or civilians like this.
Then there was the My-Lai massacre. May be there is a social sickness here in the US?

Posted by: Andy | April 19, 2007 09:35 AM

Turkey Shoot anyone?

Posted by: Hilary Clinton | April 19, 2007 09:48 AM

One can't fail to notice that when lefty has no cogent argument to make he resorts to ad hominems. Bullying, insults and shouting down those who disagree are the typical brown shirt tactics used by leftists the world over. No difference here.

Posted by: getech | April 19, 2007 10:00 AM

The killer wanted publicity and he got. Very much like Herostratus a man who set fire to the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus in his quest for fame in 356 BC. I am appalled that NBC choose to broadcast these sick videos. NBC acted not like News Agency but like Show. I fully agree with FBI agent Clint Van Zandt that Cho-the-Killer achieved ultimate victory by reaching out from the grave and getting the attention. I am afraid he also proved that we are a sick society addicted to violent news. The NBC broadcasting is also a message to others sociopaths that by gruesome killing they will get what they never had - five minutes of glory. Shame on NBC, shame on Steve Capus, shame on us.

Posted by: ychob7 | April 19, 2007 10:38 AM

It now begins to appear that this tragic incident could have been avoided if a little more attention had been paid, if there had been better health care and supervision available, if, if, if. At least we know what cold have been tried, if, if, if. The bigger picture, however -- the series of such events, seems to indicate that there may be a systemic cause. Something like the tolerance in the United States of "free-floating" violence -- an atmosphere of carelessness, cruelty, tolerance for injustice, race prejudice, feelings of national superiority, etc. etc. Why ignore it?

Posted by: Jean G. | April 19, 2007 11:11 AM

Richard D. wrote:
---This kid was crazy but, the college outlawed guns on campus so HE was the only one armed. The NRA believes that everyone should be armed to protect us from people just like this.---

Would the university students, and especially their parents, consider that a good idea? Has anyone proposed handing out guns to freshmen like they hand out computers? Would you want your child to go to that school?

---Without the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, we become SLAVES to those who retain that right, be they criminals or the Government. Therefore, without the Second Amendment, all the others won't exist for long.---

I agree completely, but what is an "arm"? I think we'd agree a nuke, a fertilizer bomb, a grenade or a bazooka should not be allowed in spite of the 2nd ammendment yet they are all "arms". Do you disagree? We'd probably also agree a muskeet or single load rifle should not be banned because of the second ammendment rights and their limited ability to hurt many people. I would include the right to own any gun that cannot shoot more than 10 shots a minute.

My question here is where should owning arms be allowed and when should it be restricted. The constitution restricts free speach when it might produce harm, such as yelling fire in a theater yet no one is arguing for that right. We restrict all kinds of "arms". Why are "guns" so special? As we saw in VA, a semiautomatic gun can do more damage than a bomb yet bombs are illegal. I would have you consider that gun makers do not make bombs and therefore could care less whether you have the right to own one, but they want no restrictions on selling their products. Its all about money, as usual.

---Look at the UK, they outlawed guns so now they are outlawing free speech.---

I think you are making a connection where there is no conmnection. Can you show how one lead to the other?

---Do not just limit crime research to gun crimes when you compare world crime rates. The U.S. is not even in the top ten for violent crime when ALL violent crime is included. Australia ranks right near the top, along with the UK.---

This is the same type of argument car makers made when legislation was considered to require seat belts. They would not save every life and might even kill people who were "safely" thrown from a car. But implementation has proven the value of seatbelts. Sure there are other crimes that cause people's deaths. But they should not be used to restrict gun ownership to reduce gun violence. Note I did not say to "ban" gun ownership but the NRA will have you believe any restriction is the government "taking away your guns". I'm sure more than a few people today wished someone took the guns away from Cho.

Posted by: Fate | April 19, 2007 11:21 AM

Proverbs 14:26-27(Amp):
26 In the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is strong confidence, and His children shall always have a place of refuge.
27 Reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.

We need fear of the God at work or school or anywhere we go it is portecting us.

God bless America!

Posted by: Tsege Abebe | April 19, 2007 11:28 AM

I agree, shame on NBC. I listened on MSNBS to Steve Capus discuss the "difficult" discussions on whether to release it to the public. Yet it was on nationwide TV within hours of it arriving at NBC. I switched off MSNBC because I was so disgusted. I switched back about 20 minutes later and they were just rolling the video and pictures over and over.

You've lost me MSNBC and NBC. Fox lost me years ago with the Halloway "Breaking News" and lies spoken by its "journalists". I never thought I'd live to see the day when news reporting came second to the character of a program considered a civic duty. Shame on them. NBC compounded the tradgedy this nation is suffering.

Posted by: Fate | April 19, 2007 11:29 AM

The NRA and most Americans love guns and do not seem to understand that guns kill very efficiently especially the automatic rapid reloading types similar to what Cho used. Australia banned guns after the massacre in the 90's and has had no more massacres or mass killings. Since America is too timid to challenge the NRA, then, Americans will have to be resigned to more killings. Chin up and hope for luck. All this crying is of no use. See Iraq.

Posted by: M. Stratas | April 19, 2007 11:48 AM

Each of us can become a better listener, without prejudice ears. True Dialogue starts with listening intently to the other person and not listening with the intent of rebutting the other person's viewpoints or ideals.

truly listening to each other!

Posted by: patrick | April 19, 2007 11:50 AM

Sunday April 28, 1996 In a period of just over nineteen hours, Martin Bryant, a man described by locals as being "a quiet lad and a bit of a loner," had killed thirty-five men, women and children and wounded another eighteen making him the most notorious spree killer of all time.

Entire story is here:
http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/mass/bryant/index_1.html

James, murders still occur in Australia even after the ineffective weapons ban:

Information on murders in Australia two years after the ban 1998 - 2000

Murders: 302
Murders (per capita): 0.0150324 per 1,000 people
Murders with firearms: 59
Murders with firearms (per capita): 0.00293678 per 1,000 people

Source http://www.nationmaster.com/country/as-australia/cri-crime

Hiveof5 - people do kill people, all the time. Guns are simply one of many tools, like a knife, or a car, or a blunt instrument.

Back up your statements with facts, your more likely to convert someone who's pro-gun.

M.Stratus - they were not automatic weapons as you state, there's a big difference. Your also wrong about Australia, see above.

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

I think what is perhaps the most disturbing statement in Wattenberg's post is that he says "we are doing fine." Perhaps I don't live the same kind of delusional fantasy realm that he does, but I don't think that the deaths of over 30 people can ever be construed as "just fine" no matter how you twist the facts. In fact, it shows just how perversely people like him warp events to advance or defend their own agendas.

Think about this Mr. Wattenberg, if your son or daughter was one of those that were murdered at VT, would you so calmly and happily say that everything is fine? Monday was an indicator of a vast failure of our society to prevent such things from ever happening, and your laissez-faire approach to this is both disturbing and sickening. If there are people who, after these events, truly go about their ways thinking as you do, Mr. Wattenberg, then things are certainly not fine at all.

Posted by: Ben | April 19, 2007 01:34 PM

The right to bear arms does NOT mean the right to bear any and all arms. I side with "Fate" here: the nation needs to think of some guns as vastly more dangerous to society than others, and restrict their sale greatly and as soon as possible. I also believe that some way needs to be found to drastically restrict access by mentally ill individuals to highly lethal weapons in the US. This should be treated as a major national issue, and debated/researched very seriously.And then acted upon by legislators.

Posted by: KJMagic | April 19, 2007 02:14 PM

No, we are not doing fine, Mr. Wattenberg. We are a very sick indeed, as a society, as a country and especially as a self imposed role-model for the world -through our entertainment and our military industries. Something is very foul in America and we do have to look into it. It is a matter that goes beyond gun control, police intelligence-gathering capabilities, emergency management and the issue of individual privacy vs. public safety. Cho was not American but he grew up in America, and the gibberish he said in his video sounded like any other American kid gone serial-killer. What is so wrong with us? Why are we killing ourselves and why do we have to listen to people like you try to lie about it and pretend everything is Ok? This isn't about guns or the Constitution, that's for sure. This is about something being very wrong with our moral fiber. Are we pushing ourselves and our kids too hard? Are we telling them that if they are not socially or economically or academically or sexually successful they are better off making a name for themselves in the pages of mass murder history? You may say what you want, but the truth is these things aren't common in other countries. I'm currently working in Venezuela, a South American country that has its own share of violence because of political problems. But I don't see school shootings here every month. I didn't see them either in Argentina or Brazil, and Brazil almost has the same population as the US. It's true, they have loads of deaths due to organized crime, and Colombia has a civil war, and across the sea, Africans have their ethnic wars and the Middle East has lots and lots of killings. But we are America. We were supposed to be past all that. We were supposed to be at the pinnacle of Modern civilization. Yet, here we are, seeing our kids shoot each other for reasons as ridiculous as "nobody likes me". And this is mainly something that happens in the US. After you cash your NRA check, you might want to check the statistics from other countries, like Canada, Australia, Germany or Great Britain. They are not killing themselves like we are. Look, I'm not a social scientist or anything like that. If there is something I'm sure about, it is I have many more questions than answers. But maybe I do have an answer to one of the questions that you mentioned. "Why do they hate us so?" Maybe because we are so sick as a nation, and yet we have the arrogance of invading or dominating other countries to force them into adopting our "great" way of life.


Posted by: eric (working abroad) | April 19, 2007 03:48 PM

If Cho's classmates had concealed weapons, how would that have stopped him from taking as many lives as he could before he was taken down himself? OK, only 10 or 15 people would have been killed in the crossfire instead of 30. Much better solution, eh? Hardly. The solutions are two-fold: stricter gun control, especially banning semi-automatics, but most importantly, take teachers seriously when they report threatening student art and writing to authorities. Mentally ill children should be sent to a psychologist who can't let the child out of his custody until he has a diagnosis and a remedy.

From the age of 10, mentally ill students have probably been writing about how they hated certain people, wished they were dead, etc. And teachers have probably been sending their work to the office year after year just as Cho's Tech teachers sent his work to the authorities, and to no avail. There must be stronger statewide or, even better, federal policies, that determine what shall happen when a teacher reports violent student work or behavior. Look at it this way: the schools are a clearinghouse for every single person in this country. Each middle school or high school teacher is an unofficial albeit underpaid counselor who has a wealth of information on approximately 150 children. Teachers usually know who's cuckoo and who's not. Why not use this great untapped source of intelligence for the safety of the majority?

Posted by: English teacher | April 19, 2007 04:35 PM

Let's compare Australia with their "ineffective" gun ban and the U.S.A:

1) Australia:

Murders: 302
Murders (per capita): 0.0150324 per 1,000 people
Murders with firearms: 59
Murders with firearms (per capita): 0.00293678 per 1,000 people

2) U.S.A.:
Murders: 12,658
Murders (per capita): 0.042802 per 1,000 people
Murders with firearms: 8,259
Murders with firearms (per capita): 0.0279271 per 1,000 people

The U.S.A. has about three times the murder rate of australia. I'm sure we can play this game with any other first world country.
Face it: Regarding crime, the U.S. looks like a third world.
Are you really proud of this country?

Posted by: IM | April 20, 2007 09:48 AM

to add to my last Post:

Obviously you can be proud of your country, but not of it's gun politics. And the U.S. looks even worse compared to other First World countries:

3) Germany:
Murders: 960
Murders (per capita): 0.0116461 per 1,000 people
Murders with firearms: 384
Murders with firearms (per capita): 0.00465844 per 1,000 people
Rapes: 7,499
Total crimes: 6,264,720

That means America has about four times the murder rate of Germany.
No, Mr. Wattenberg, that is not "fine". Even in a inperfect world you could do better.

Posted by: IM | April 20, 2007 10:06 AM

*nor are we particularly violent*REMIND ME somebody. What is this article ABOUT!!!!!

Posted by: Bill MacLeod | April 22, 2007 05:33 AM

No guns?......then what next? Let's see Cho could have detinated a bomb or strapped himself with a dozen bombs and would have blown to bits the entire campus. Cmon folks use your common sense.
For the people that want a ban on guns they will use this tragedy to plead their case. Again I ask "then what next?"

Posted by: Barbara | May 2, 2007 09:36 PM

I have read some of the negative comments regarding the article written by Mr. Wattenberg. The comments posted by some folks is quite amusing. Their spelling is atrocious. How much thought have they put into their answers? Not much that's for sure!

Posted by: B.Friedland | June 6, 2007 09:33 PM

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