The Real Problem Transcends Policy

By Kenneth R. Weinstein
The Hudson Institute

The unspeakable tragedy at Virginia Tech is not a public policy problem but something that greatly transcends it. Monday's carnage might possibly have been limited through a number of policy options: greater controls on the sale of semi-automatic weapons; better mental health laws that can help force obviously ill adults like the murderer -- whose own writings foreshadowed the attacks -- into counseling and therapy, even against their will; and improved methods of instantaneous emergency communication that in Blacksburg, as on 9/11, could well have saved many.

The real problem is deeper. We live in a vibrant civil society, in which individuals take their responsibilities to each other seriously. We also live in a schizophrenic age: a church-going era, but one of electronic fantasy, of individualized entertainment that encourages atomization from our immediate social environment.

When, at times, our culture glorifies gratuitous and consequence-free violence through horror movies, Internet sites, and video and computer games, the impact on marginal personalities, like the murderer, can be deadly. That the mix of fantasy, narcissism, social frustration, mental illness and access to semi-automatic weapons does not lead to even more frequent acts of horrific violence is itself astonishing.

In short, the problem goes well beyond Washington -- to New York and Hollywood, but also to every home in America. Parents have a responsibility to be watchful of their own children, to be honest about their children's pastimes and their mental states.

Kenneth R. Weinstein is CEO of the Hudson Institute

Posted by Michael Corones |  April 18, 2007; 1:51 PM ET
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Why should anyone bother to read or even consider anything you say when you are so 100% completely off base with this - purely inflammatory and utterly irrelevant - statement

"greater controls on the sale of automatic weapons, which are almost impossible for victims to defend against and have no justifiable use for hunting"

Greater controls on automatic weapons?

What's your point other than to deliberatly misinform people. With this statement, you have thrown any shred of credibiltiy for you or your organization out the window. Ken, the only reaction one could have is your an untrustworthy, attention seeking liar.

First, he didn't use an autormatic weapon (and the assualt weapon ban your probably shilling for doesn't address them).

Second, the manufacture and sale to civilians of NEW automatic weapons has been completely banned since 1986. Those weapons that were manufactured prior to that cost in the 10s of thousands of dollars, require significant local police and federal approval and carry with them onerous registration and secure storage requirements.

"almost impossible for victims to defend against"

Automatic weapons are no more difficult or easy to defend against than any other gun. Heck, they may actually be easier to because, as our military has seen, when fired they are notoriously inaccurate (muzzles tend to shoot straight up). Its why the military uses guns that shoot in 3 shot bursts - cause they don't want to waste ammo.

"have no justifiable use for hunting"

Well, yeah. But so what. 2nd amendment has nothing to do with hunting.

Posted by: Countertop | April 18, 2007 06:27 PM

well,

apparently this meant to be sarcastic. If so, then ... well . . . good point! I take back what I said about you guys.

Posted by: countertop | April 18, 2007 07:52 PM

You say "better mental health laws that can help force ill adults ...into counseling and therapy, even against their will..."

Uh huh and what happens when you wnat to die peacefully not hooked up to machines and the doctors insist on it against your will? If you get your way, you lose and the doctors win.

It is EXACTLY the same legal principle. Individuals have the rght to refuse medical care.

The only time the state steps in and forces care is when there is an "imminent" danger to the person themself or to others (or if they are so mentally ill that they can not care for themselves with food, bathing etc.) Once the person is stabilized so they are no longer an immediate danger to themself or others, they are released - and have every right to drop out of counseling or stop their meds (just as you can refuse a medical test or treatment if you think will exceed your insurance coverage.)

The writings were bizarre but they were not a threat. If you lock people up for writing bizzare and twisted things, then you start with Stephen King, Maven of the horror flicks and move on to a LOT more. One standard has to apply for everyone. And no one knew 40 years ago whether King was just weird or what so he should have been committed and forced into treatment if you base it on fictional writing that is bizzare without threats being made.

"FORCED" counseling?? Oh there is a bright idea. It is like an alcholic, if the person doesn't want help, it won't happen.

Muddled thinking about how a change will effect other legal rights is not useful. Go get a law degree - I did.

Posted by: AnnS | April 18, 2007 11:37 PM

Just two quick corrections and a comment. First, the killers weapons were semi-automatics. Second, the clips used in the weapons would have been illegal under the assualt weapons ban that was allowed to expire in 2004. If the shooter had standard clips he would have had to reload much more frequently, thereby theoretically giving the students and teachers more time to react or possibly subdue the assailant.

Posted by: Bill H | April 19, 2007 01:04 AM

"Well, yeah. But so what. 2nd amendment has nothing to do with hunting."

And the 2nd amendment does not give anyone the right to own semi-automatic guns or handguns. It gave early americans the right to have weapons when convening a militia. There are few if any militias left in this country so this is an obselete need. And when the 2nd amendment was enacted, muskets were the only guns people had so how about we allow muskets and ban everything else?

The fact is handguns are meant to kill people. There is no reason for anyone but police officers and the military to own them. They do not protect homeowners and their families as they are far more likely to be used in suicides, gun accidents, one family member killing another, etc.

We need courageous leaders to stop this maddness and BAN all handguns and semi-automatic weapons. If you need a gun for hunting, use a rifle. Or even better. A musket.

Posted by: | April 19, 2007 06:05 AM

Unknown . . . a few thoughts

"few if any militias left in this country"

Not true. The modern day militia, per congress, still consists of all able bodied males 17-49. Id suspect it probably includes females too. And what has transpired, with a nation of concealed carry holders amounts to the same thing.

"when the 2nd amendment was enacted, muskets were the only guns people had so how about we allow muskets and ban everything else"

Love to see this in the Post. When the first amendment was enacted, soapboxes and hand distributed leaflets were the only outlets for media. How bout we ban tv, radio, internet, and modern pritning presses (nothing more than word hoses, in my mind) and everything else but the town square soapbox

"The fact is handguns are meant to kill people"

Is it? He used a Walther P22. Thats actually a target pistol meant to assault sheets of paper. My Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt is designed to shoot deer. In fact, something must be seriously wrong since I have about a dozen and not one has ever killed anyone.

Posted by: countertop | April 19, 2007 07:00 AM

"better mental health laws that can help force obviously ill adults like the murderer -- whose own writings foreshadowed the attacks -- into counseling and therapy, even against their will"

While better access to mental health care would be benefitial to a number of people, the usefulness of counseling and therapy depends upon the willingness of the client to make use of it.

Posted by: JL | April 19, 2007 09:00 AM

The purpose of the Second Amendment is to make the Federal government wary of an armed populace that could form militias at any time and overthrow it, if necessary. If you're going to insist on emphasizing the well-regulated militia aspect, you're going to have to advocate automatic weaponry for all able bodied men, since a militia with muskets meant to respond to the U.S. Armed Forces would not be considered well-regulated.

Posted by: Lefty | April 19, 2007 09:05 AM

To countertop:

You are a moron. We have an professional military. We don't have a need for citizens to keep firearms in case the british come to attack us. That is why the 2nd amendment was enacted--not to give ordinary people the right to keep guns in their homes once a formal military was created.

And handguns, semi automatics and automatic weapons were not created for hunting. That's what rifles are for. You can use whatever gun you like to shoot deer, but it doesn't mean that gun was invented for hunting. So completely unnecessary. There is plenty of evidence that guns in people's homes are most often used against other family members or in suicides. You're a fool to think you or any other gun owner is safe just because it hasn't happened to you.

The rest of us have a right to be safe and as long as guns are so easy to get, I feel unsafe. We need much stronger gun laws and when that happens our murder rates will approach the rates seen in other countries with more sane laws.

Posted by: | April 19, 2007 09:46 AM

This boy apparently was receiving some kind of treatment as they found antidepressants on him or in his room. Often SSRIs have been found to trigger violent episodes in young people. It is obvious he has been crying for help for years. My question is what was the quality of the help given? The cost of intensive individual and group psychotherapy is beyond the ability of most people to pay. Insurances rarely pay for more than 12 to 20 sessions per year. I doubt that even if he wanted it, that affordable, effective treatment would be available. Even if he had been hospitalized for a much longer period, I doubt that he would have been given the one on one treatment necessary to effect change in his personality. You can drug someone up but the drugs don't solve the problem. As soon as the person is released they often stop the drugs. This boy obviously missed out on the socialization process somewhere. He was probably teased for being different as a child so I'll bet you he even showed signs of this disorder in elementary or high school. But in retrospect, one can't place blame on any one factor. There are a host of factors in play and all of them came together in one tragic event. But then look at the young boys blowing themselves up daily and taking hundreds with them for some kind of glory in Iraq.

Posted by: PR | April 19, 2007 09:57 AM

To [anonymous]: Why did you post on a topic I had already refuted 41 minutes earlier? The Second Amendment protects us from OUR government going bad. I'm surprised people can call him King George and other things, and not see the wisdom in allow us the means to resist tyranny.

Posted by: Lefty | April 19, 2007 10:13 AM

This all boils down to logic versus emotion. Logic dictates that sane people should be able to protect themselves from insane, crazy or criminal people at all times. This protection today would take the shape of a handgun since that is the easiest defensive weapon that can be used by many. Trying to outlaw every possible weapon that could be used to attack others would be impossible to say the least. Besides the fact that there have been mass murders with knives and swords and even poison, just saying guns are the problem is ignorant. Without a person behind it, a gun is an inanimate object. With a person behind the wheel, a car is far more dangerous. Just look at the death rate of automobile accidents compared with gun related deaths, 50,000 to 30,000. Which is more deadly in that equation? Automobiles. How many people are screaming for restricting cars to 65mph top speeds?
THINK before you speak or write. If you really think, you will realize that freedom is not free but, it is worth it. You will also realize that freedom gives everyone the right to self defense, without government controls.
The Bill of Rights means exactly what it says. Let's start enforcing it again. This Cho person would have easily been stopped if just ONE Professor in the building had been able to shoot back.

Posted by: Richard | April 19, 2007 10:26 AM

I concur with your comments about the responsibility of the parents.

Public policy was adhered to by the players. Cho had gone through the proper means and procedures for gun purchase in Virginia. Health and privacy policies effectively tied the hands of the university officials, police, teachers, counselors. Yet Cho's parents are barely mentioned in any media reporting.

If I am correct, the parents agreed to have Cho involuntarily admitted for mental health treatment. This indicates that the parents were aware of Cho's mental condition.

One would think that the parents and sister would notice Cho's degrading mental condition. From a cultural perspective, and speaking from experience as an Asian American (Filipino-American), I would assume that the parents chose to ignore the problem and let others handle it (conflict avoidance is a classic characteristic among Asian families), or that the situation would work itself out. Indeed, the situation has worked itself out with dire consequences.

I highly recommend that you read Crazy by Peter Earley. He is a Washington Post reporter who wrote about his own experiences as a parent with a mentally ill adult child. He also explores the deplorable conditions of the mental health system.

This isn't about gun control. Its about living in a society dominated by fear. I think its fine to have it for sport (hunting, shooting, etc.) I do not think that having-it-for-protection is a good enough reason to own a gun. We live in a society of fear and paranoia. Guns drive that fear and paranoia; it sets off a domino effect where individuals have to protect themselves with guns from people who have guns. No one should have to live in fear.

Posted by: Ed C | April 19, 2007 11:02 AM

I agree with Ed when it comes to the gun culture driving fear and paranoia. I disagree that "this isn't about gun control". If that is so, then the Virginia Tech mass murder is not about insanity either. Then we can agree that it's pretty much about nothing at all.

Let's get serious. Pro-gun advocates set an impossibly high standard of efficacy for gun control laws. But one can always point to situations where a given law would not work. The key point is that these killing tools (because that's what they are) are freely available. Let's change that.

Posted by: Larry | April 19, 2007 11:22 AM

Guns have been freely available for centuries in this country! This type of murder is relatively new, so you can't tie the two together. The problem is that people are not acting responsibly with weapons in general these days. Why do you think knife crime is such a big deal in London now? (Because they banned guns.) Nobody _needs_ to shoot their food in the age of 99-cent cheeseburgers; however, it takes over ten minutes for the cops to show up when you're face to face with a murderer! (Call them, they'll tell you what their response time is.)How can you think you're safe without your own firearm when an army of cops on a gun-free campus can't stop 30 people from being killed by one guy with a pistol? Only those staring down his barrel knew where he was, and they could do nothing.

Posted by: Lefty | April 19, 2007 11:37 AM

Thanks for you thoughtful comments. It seems to me that the self defense argument for guns is largely a fantasy, sorry to say. Life is not like the movies or "24". Even armed, we are paralyzed by fear when faced with violence. News stories with guns are about murder; there are very very few self defense stories.

And the reason knife murders make headlines in London is that murder is so rare... because there are virtually no guns!

Posted by: Lefty | April 19, 2007 11:43 AM

sorry the last post by "Lefty" was really by me. apologies.

Posted by: Larry | April 19, 2007 11:48 AM

Larry,

Your right. Let's get rid of the guns. Then lets get rid of the bows and arrows - those are killing tools as well. After that we need to curtail all knives and axes since thier primary job is to cut things, the things being cut could be someone's throat. After we're done with that let's ban vehicles as well. While not dangerous by itself, it becomes so when a human operates it with bad or no judgement at all.

A gun is a tool like a knife or an axe or an automobile, built for a purpose, to project a tiny amount of metal at other objects at an increadible amount of speed. It is entirely up to the person using that tool where to direct that tiny amount of metal.

I wouldn't say they are freely available. I wouldn't know who to ask to get one illeagally but I'm pretty sure it's done quite often. One only needs to look to D.C. with the gun ban and how great that's worked for 30+ years to know that extreme regulation isn't a solution. Go ask Australia how it's worked for them.

The problem is many fold, and it isn't the gun laws on the books that failed. That process worked as it was supposed to.

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

Larry,

I agree with your statement "News stories with guns are about murder; there are very very few self defense stories". Why do you think that is? Perhaps because mainstream media is less intent on telling those stories than selling the horror. I would cordially invite you to a plethera of stories - current ones at that, which support the over 2.5 million defensive uses of armed citizens each year in Virginia at this website:

http://opencarry.mywowbb.com/forum60/

Ignorance is more dangerous than anything else.

Posted by: Chris | April 19, 2007 11:55 AM

Larry, I'm sorry to say you're just ignorant. Who's going to print the thousands of stories that say "Man threatened, pulls gun. Felon leaves?" If murder was so rare in the UK, why would gun or knife crime be a national issue? They just traded one weapon for another. I ask you, would you put a "gun free home" sign on your front lawn? No, you wouldn't because the uncertainty keeps you safe from most people who want your stuff or even your life.

Posted by: Lefty | April 19, 2007 12:03 PM

I digress Larry, it's 2.5 Million defensive uses a year nation wide, not Virginia alone. I was incorrect.

Posted by: Chris | April 19, 2007 12:12 PM

Larry,

Here is a use within the last 7 years in VA:

January 2000--Peter Odighizuwa went on a shooting rampage at Appalachian Law School in Virginia. When it began, students fled in all directions, but two, Mikael Gross, 34, and Tracy Bridges, 25, ran to their cars, retrieved their guns, and confronted the shooter, who promptly dropped his weapon, and he was knocked to the ground and held for police (Computerized Nexis-Lexis search revealed 280 media stories. Only four (4) mentioned that students with guns stopped the shooter; only two that they pointed their guns at him.)

You should know by now not to trust everything the media tells you, just like you should closely question any poll you see because statistics can be easily skewed to serve the presenters point.

Posted by: Chris | April 19, 2007 12:30 PM

Apologies for being skeptical but http://opencarry.mywowbb.com/forum60/ is an openly pro-gun web site. What dispassionate, objective peer-reviewed study substantiates these claims?

And Lefty, murder is "so rare" in the UK that knife crimes make the news. Our murder rate is a multiple of what it is in the rest of the civilized world. And if it is not guns that cause this, then it must mean that we are uniquely murderous and depraved. I choose to believe it is the guns that are to blame, not our moral character.

Posted by: Larry | April 19, 2007 12:52 PM

Well, there's nothing I can do about your personal choices on what to believe. People in the United States have less regard for the lives of others today than they did in the past. However, I can tell you that you're wrong about the rate, the UK and Australia are worse than the U.S. per capita. You're in the wrong forum if you think we won't call you on stats you made up on the fly. When the UK bans knives, they'll use some other improvised weapon, I'd imagine. After all, crude weapons are seized from inmates every day.

Posted by: Lefty | April 19, 2007 01:15 PM

I think we got to the bottom of your motivation, Larry. You believe that people are inherently good, despite millenia of proof otherwise. Our moral character is in tatters, from the mainstreaming of pornography and gambling to the rise of slasher films. Kids are told to judge right and wrong for themselves on how something makes them feel, which removes any sort of collective framework for morality like you mention.

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

Larry,

True, the website I provided is a pro-gun site. Provide me with a dispassionate, objective peer review, and I'll be more than willing to look at it, as I am sure the majority of the people who are on that site will be. Most citizens who choose to carry are more likely to obey the full letter of the law, because they know it and they know the consequences of stepping out of line. There are always going to be people willing to break the law though, and it's extremely difficult to stop a highly motivated and dedicated person on a mission.

Murder isn't as rare as you think though, here I hope is some proof from a dispassionate, objective peer-reviewed study.

Crime statistics - Murders with firearms by country
#4 US 8,259
#5 Mexico 3,589
#7 Germany 384
#12 Canada 165
#20 United Kingdom 62
#21 Australia 59
#23 Switzerland 40
#29 Denmark 14
SOURCE: Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, covering the period 1998 - 2000 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Centre for International Crime Prevention)

Posted by: Chris | April 19, 2007 02:01 PM

In 2003 there were 341 homicides in Australia.

Source
http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/facts/2005/01_recordedCrime.html


There are a variety of means by which homicide is committed. In 2003-04 knives were more likely to be used than any other weapon (33%).
A further 22% of homicides were committed using physical force (hands/feet), 17% with firearms, and 12% with blunt instruments.

Source - figure 10
http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/facts/2005/02_selectedCrimeProfiles.html

As a comparison, in 2004 in Virginia, 391 homicides were committed, 69.4% with a gun (doesn't specify type -hand, rifle, semi, or automatic), knife at 11.3%, and other at 19.3%

Source here
http://bjsdata.ojp.usdoj.gov/dataonline/Search/Homicide/State/RunHomOneYearofData.cfm

Those are objective peer reviewed dispassionate sites. The one I listed exists because it's not popular for the main stream media to report on the cases where legally carrying and trained citizens use these tools to defend themselves. I live close to Sully Station PD, but I don't know that if they'd be able to respond in time to save my life, much less catch a potential perpetrator, and I'd rather not take that chance.

Posted by: Chris | April 19, 2007 02:27 PM

Chris, the data you provide (thanks btw!) seems to show that the US has far more firearms murders than other countries, proportionally. So, either Americans are more murderous than others, or guns are to blame. I choose to believe that guns are to blame.

On the "inherently good" point, I take no stand. I just notice that the murder rate has been falling consistently throughout history. I saw a study (though I cannot recall its reference off the cuff) that shows that humans murder each other at increasingly lower rates since the Middle Ages. The trend is actually quite amazing; we have been consistently safer as the centuries have passed. BTW, by our standards, the society/culture of our Founding Fathers was quite ghastly. So I guess I believe in humans' ability to improve themselves and reach ever higher moral ground, with occasional steps backwards. Wide gun ownership is one such step the wrong way.

Posted by: Larry | April 19, 2007 05:32 PM

Unfortunately this tragedy shows the huge gulf between Western Europe and the US when it comes to how murder is treated.
The EU states have an outright ban on state executions while the US permits the death penalty.
In a country where the state itself sees capital punishment as a credible judicial remedy it is not difficult for citizens to expound such ludicrous theories that this massacre would have been minimised if guns were allowed to all students on campus.
By this logic anywhere that there are masses of people - the elementary school, the library, the cinema, the bowling alley, the preschool - people should have the right to carry loaded lethal weapons. Too many people have been brought up on a diet of Ramboesque action movies and John Wayne posturing yet it is surprising that they aren't a little bit embarrassed about broadcasting such juvenile views.
I'm always struck on entering or leaving the US through Canada that the Customs officers on the US side are armed while their colleagues on the Canadian side are not. What do the officials on either side of the border suspect happens when individuals cross that line or does it simply reflect national views on law enforcement?
Do US citizens really feel under so much threat from without when the stats show that the 200m private firearms within are the greatest threat to civil society. One in four US citizens has at least one gun. But the bright hope for the future is that 75% of US citizens do not. 75% of citizens are rational people who see beyond the hysteria, hype and marketing of the gun lobby.
Some respondents have talked about the second amendment as though it was some unchangeable natural law ethic. It is an amendment and as such can be 'amended' if the will of the vast majority of US citizens were listened to.
It is sad that the self-interest of the armed minority are the most vocal lobby and at such times, when deeper reflection is required, they rush to defend the indefensible.

Posted by: Matt | April 20, 2007 04:58 AM

Larry,

I would be inclined to say Americans are more murderous, but that isn't exactly true either. Look at what's going on over seas in some of the third world countries. The statistic aren't telling the whole story, just that Americans are using handguns because they are available - legally or not - which isn't pointed out in the stats.

I think that you'd find that an additional comparision needs to be done, with homicides by legally obtained and carrying and trained citizens verses illegally obtained and untrained thugs.

Stats can be a problem, as I pointed out earlier, because they may not tell the whole story.

Posted by: Chris | April 20, 2007 11:25 AM

I say ban all guns and give everybody a NUKE! Now that will REALLY give you a power rush.

Posted by: Bill MacLeod | April 22, 2007 06:00 AM

Think Tank Town The Real Problem Trancends Policy Kenneth R. Weinstein, CEO of the The Hudson Institute --- There are two paragraphs in the article which in my opinion contain much of the solution namely ---When, at times, our culture glorifies gratuitous and consequence-free violence through horror movies, Internet sites, and video and computer games, the impact on marginal personalities, like the murderer, can be deadly. That the mix of fantasy, narcissism, social frustration, mental illness and access to semi-automatic weapons does not lead to even more frequent acts of horrific violence is itself astonishing.

In short, the problem goes well beyond Washington -- to New York and Hollywood, but also to every home in America. Parents have a responsibility to be watchful of their own children, to be honest about their children's pastimes and their mental states.-----
Let me explain from my experience. I was brought up in the 1930's in the tail end of the Victorian Era and in the Great Depression. Two great values strongly enforced by society, not the law, were ignore completely sex and personal violence.Even teen-age boys were not allowed to fight and never, never, hit a woman. I played hockey in winter and football in summer nearly every day after school and on weekends we played teams from other neighborhoods. All of this was organized by ourselves - no parents involved. There never was any fighting. If you did any fighting you and your team were instantly disqualified and no one would play with you again. If you did not keep the sex code and no public show of emotion - no one would associate with you. Naturally there were people who did not believe in the sex and emotion code and they were looked upon as second-class citizens. ----- Discipline and responsibility were important also. For example newspaper boxes on the street were open - just sheltered from the rain. Even though money was scarce and sometimes food there was little if any breakdown of law and order. ----- Now I had a brother who was quite intelligent and lead the class at school who in his 20's became eventually very anti-social, would not see a doctor or psychologist and in the end left home and lived on the street, got sick and died. There never was any violence against other people which I put down partly to the inbred values, mental habits, and because of the attitudes of society any small indication of violence etc. would be immediately noticed by everyone.---- We pay a big price in society today because of our great lack of responsibility, discipline, and lack of good values, ideals and attitudes.


Posted by: Peter Jackson | April 28, 2007 08:45 PM

Protection against mass gun violence need not depend on "better mental health laws that can help force obviously ill adults like the murderer -- whose own writings foreshadowed the attacks -- into counseling and therapy, even against their will." The legal standard to force someone into some form of confinement, whether jail or a mental institution, against their will, should be similar to that of a criminal conviction, i.e., beyond a reasonable doubt. That is too high a hurdle for just taking away the right to purchase a rapid firing semiautomatic weapon with a large ammo magazine or rapid reload capability. Also, what standard of certainty would be used to release the person from treatment?

In other democracies that share US sensibilities for civil liberties, the right to own a weapon does not usually exist, and those societies do not appear to suffer from that lack (much less crime than in the US). While that experience does not necessarily justify a blanket exclusion of civilian gun ownership, it does suggest that removing that right from an individual just suspected of POSSIBLY being aggressively antisocial or prone to violence need not cause serious harm to people wrongfully prohibited from owning such weapons.

However a limited weapons restrictions database might be used improperly for other purposes, or cause innocent people to suffer ostracism, even if the legal standard of certainty is low. A way of perhaps accomplishing the same objective would be to require purchasers to provide valid affidavits from people who affirm they know the individual and have no reason to suspect he or she should not own such weapons.

Posted by: BTMPost | April 29, 2007 01:13 PM

Chris,
In considering the desireability of keeping the right to bear arms guaranteed by our Constitution, you should not limit your thinking to criminals. Statistics show that, by a large margin, most gun related deaths and injuries are to family members from rage and accidents. Again, that may not be more important than the deterence that gun ownership has to burglars, but it should be kept in mind.

Also, it is a fallacy to consider modern guns in the same category as bows and arrows and knives. That comparison may have been reasonable in the days of the flintlock, but it became void with the introduction of the Colt Peacemaker. As tragically demonstrated more than just at Virginia State, a single person with a modern semiautomatic can rapidly kill and injure a large number of people.

Posted by: BTMPost | April 29, 2007 01:38 PM

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