It is too soon to know much more than the barest facts of what happened. 33 dead, more than two dozen wounded. The as of yet unidentified shooter. And many thousands of lives undoubtedly affected. The local Boston 11 o'clock news is reporting on a local mother who has not been able to reach her son at Virginia Tech all day. The national coverage I've seen today has been mostly somber in tone, mostly fact-oriented, but off the mark IMHO on a couple of key points.
Wikipedia already has this event properly classified as a "spree killing". But with all the alleged experts being paraded out in front of cameras to be interviewed by the network speculationcasters, I've not heard the term used yet in any of the network coverage.
Way too much attention is being focused on the fact that this was a "school shooting". The media flashbacks to Columbine are mostly gratuitous. Yes, it was a shooting at a shool, but there's a rather large difference between a major university with 25,000 students and most of the other locales that we classify as sites of school shootings. More importantly, 33 fatalities would be equally tragic, and equally horrific in any other setting. Yes, as President Bush said in his statement today, "Schools should be places of safety and sanctuary...", but that should be true of everywhere in our country, whether school, place of business, restaurant, or anywhere else. If memory (and very quick research) serves me right, the two previous worst mass shootings in the US were both at restaurants: the Luby's and San Ysidrio McDonalds shootings, involved 24 and 21 victims respectively. I've seen absolutely no flashbacks to those events today. I don't ever remember the media treating restaurant shootings as a phenomenon in their own right, the way they do with school shootings.
And on top of the mis-placed attention to the fact that this occurred at a school comes the mis-placed questioning of the reaction of the campus and local police forces, with specific criticism already being leveled at the fact that they did not immediately lock-down the campus when the first shooting of two victims in a dormitory occurred. That was about two hours before the second wave, in which the rest of the killings occurred. Yes, the gunman was still at large, but one would never think of asking why a town of 25,000 wasn't subjected to an immediate and indefinite lock-down if a gunman were at large after two people were shot dead in an apartment building, particularly when the first reports indicate that the cause of the shooting appeared to be a domestic argument between a boyfriend and girlfriend, which is what the initial reports in today's shooting indicated. But the media has to play the blame game with someone, and the local authorities are a little too busy to respond, so they're easy targets at the moment; and this ball will probably roll on for a while -- and maybe even take on a life of its own.
But the blame game is only going for easy targets so far. None of the coverage that I've seen has dared to look at the prevalence of guns in the Blacksburg, VA area, and at the general issue of gun politics. Although this has usually comes up quickly in news coverage of past mass shootings, I'm not really surprised that it's not in the spotlight early on this time. This is the day and age in which political candidates of both parties feel compelled to embarrass themselves to endear themselves to the NRA, and the sitting Vice President actually shot a man. The topic is pretty much off limits... but of course, I haven't watched Keith Olbermann yet. But you can be sure that the rest of the world is already discussing it:
I lived in Blacksburg in 1997, before I decided to move from America to New Zealand. The campus at Virginia Tech is beautiful and my youngest daughter got her degree from there. We lived within walking distance. The Blacksburg area is saturated with guns and the notion that everyone has the right to have a gun or guns, and that having guns is associated with manhood. Indeed, the city parade of that year had a float with a religious theme in which all the participants brandished assault rifles.
None of this is to say that the gun culture in the US, or in the area of Blacksburg, VA, in any way makes the victims of this tragedy responsible for what happened. There is only one perpetrator of this crime (as far as we know now, anyhow) who is responsible; but it is a question that must be asked. And the looming question of guns, the culture of guns, the politics of guns, and what, if anything we collectively as a nation are ever going to be willing to do about it, is out there. And we are in an election cycle. We don't know if the guns used by the shooter in Blacksburg were purchased legally or illegally. Reports indicate that the serial numbers were filed off, which is suggestive that they may have been purchased illegally. But with all the pure speculation that is being thrown around in the ongoing media coverage, the gun issue is something that I have yet to hear anyone take up.
Update: As I wrote this, the Boston local news updated their story about the local mother, and confirmed that she had just received word that her son was one of the victims of this tragic event.
Update 2: Olbermann is on now, and from the intro it's clear he's going to cover the gun politics angle. But he's spending a lot of time embarassing himself with accusations about the alleged lack of police response.
Update 3: It would actually be more akin to shutting down a town of 36,000, not just 25,000. I forgot to account for faculty and staff.
1. John Head04/17/2007 01:03:30 AM
I think the gun issue will play out over time ... the dust needs to settle on the actual events.
As a conservative (its hard to call myself a Republican these days), even I admitt we need to do something about the gun situation in the US. While I do not think the Constitution gives the right for any person to own a gun (it does say trained Militia I believe), I also do not think you can just ban guns either. Why can guns not be treated like cars .. .you have to be trained, licensed and held responsibile. Both the seller and owners. I have a hunting rifle that was my grandfathers ... but I have a licesne, a trigger lock, and a locked ammo box. Why can not that be the requirement? Do people really need to own AK-47s? I know Rich ... your shocked to hear a conservative say that ... but after watching and reading the events in Virginia today, we need to do something different. Status quo is not working.
2. Bruce Perry04/17/2007 01:15:06 AM
Over on Instapundit, someone quickly pointed out that a bill that would have allowed students to carry handguns on campus had previously been defeated. They imply that things wouldn't have been as bad had students been armed. They silently assume that no armed student would ever have an accident or use a gun inappropriately.
Though I'm generally in favor of firearms, the notion of armed students seems risky to me.
3. Dan King04/17/2007 05:59:06 AM
I was watching British news last night, and they were discussing the gun laws in America (as we tend to have a lot stricter gun laws and can't generally understand the American ones).
Two interviewees were on, both American, one advocating stricter gun laws for America while quoting stats about the differences in numbers of shootings in America and Europe in general.
The other blamed the deaths on the fact that the students weren't allowed to take guns into school to protect themselves! Personally I found this one of the most shocking and unbelievable points of view I've heard from anyone about any subject, but I get the feeling this is a view that is fairly common in America.
Now these particular guns may have been bought illegally, and certainly stopping the legal selling of guns won't stop gun crime, but to argue that the way to prevent deaths from shootings is to arm everyone so people can shoot back must surely sound ludicrous to anyone that hears the argument? Or am I wrong.
4. Nathan T. Freeman04/17/2007 06:59:08 AM
John, there's no need to simply "believe." This is the age of the internet...
"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."
The need of a militia is the justification, but the enumerated law is "the right of the people to keep and bear arms."
Then again, we have neither security nor a free state anymore, so clearly the idea of a well regulated militia has failed. Since that's the justification offered for the right to bear arms, we might as well infringe away.
Not like the rest of the document gets any respect either. *shrug*
"to argue that the way to prevent deaths from shootings is to arm everyone so people can shoot back must surely sound ludicrous to anyone that hears the argument? Or am I wrong."
Off the top of my head, I know that author Robert Heinlein was a proponent of this argument. His exact quote was "an armed society is a polite society."
Why not ask the question a different way... if YOU had been on the campus that day, and you saw this happening, would you have rather have been armed or defenseless? Or, if you're particularly masochistic, if you mother or wife or daughter were there, would you rather SHE be armed or defenseless?
I'm not necessarily advocating widespread gun possession, but to write the argument off as "ludicrous" is surely short-changing the consideration. A firearm is an equalizer of violence, not an instigator of it. Jet Li isn't a Virginia Tech student -- there's no one to swiftly run up and disarm the shooter. Indeed, it seems that he was ultimately stopped by police gunning him down. Why would it somehow have been wrong if some students had had the opportunity to act in the same way sooner? At what point does the body calculus make this okay? Saving 1 life? 5 lives? 10? 20?
5. Dan King04/17/2007 07:59:21 AM
There will always be guns about, and as George Bush likes to put it 'evil-doers' will always be able to get hold of guns. This is a part of life and there is always a risk of getting shot inadvertantly (but then there's a good chance of getting run over by a bus).
Comparing this current scenario (in the UK anyway), with a scenario where I happened to know that everyone around me in the street was carrying a gun 'to protect themselves' I think I'd much rather the former.
And do you really think that more guns would actually save lives overall? In this incident there's a possibility it may have done, depending on the accuracy of the people shooting back of course (how many others would have got caught in the firing line if 40 people started shooting in panic).
On the flip side there's the instances where someone just thinks that a person is going to start trouble so takes their gun out, which in the current fearful society of anything different is a very worrying thought. Here in the UK we've had at least 2 people killed by accident by police thinking that they were terrorists in the last year - untrained members of the public going round with the right to protect themselves from imagined threats is just a scary thought.
But then, that's just my opinion and I'm quite happy to respect yours even if I don't agree.
6. Nathan T. Freeman04/17/2007 08:42:01 AM
Dan, I'm not advocating the argument. I'm just disagreeing with your characterization of it as "ludicrous."
In the interest of fair disclosure, I just moved back to the US from Johannesburg, and I've become a big fan of the right to bear arms. At least with an armed populace, there is an opportunity for individuals to take action in their own defense. Take that away, and you make them so much sheep -- dependent entirely on the failing efforts of a decrepit shepherd. After all, the argument against an armed populace is that if you give the sheep teeth and claws, they'll just tear each other apart. History and nature don't bear this argument out.
But honestly, this type of event is such an outlier, it really isn't going to make much difference what direction the argument goes. The result we're going to see here is new security theater surrounding schools and universities, all the same kind of ridiculous non-solutions that we've seen post "war on terror." We'll see politicians grand standing and activists strutting grieving families past TV cameras to pursue their pet causes, whatever they might be.
Oh, and a possible mea culpa... it's not clear whether the shooter actually shot himself in the end, or was taken down by police. So it might be that the cops didn't ultimately stop him. I'll leave it to the reader whether that's better or worse.
7. Nathan T. Freeman04/17/2007 10:03:40 AM
Apparently, the guy DID shoot himself, so the police were ineffective in dealing with the problem.
The student himself was a South Korean immigrant and a resident alien. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cho_Seung-hui
8. Richard Schwartz04/17/2007 10:20:26 AM
Amazing how quickly Wikipedia has the info.
9. Chris Whisonant04/17/2007 10:44:04 AM
Another great post Rich. My heart sunk yesterday when I first saw this news... The gun debate is interesting and will surely play itself out in time with this. I'm a big proponent of allowing citizens the right to bear arms. At the same time, I'm with John in that citizens don't need AKs. Automatic weapons are unnecessary for civilians. Even some semi-automatics (depending on the definition). Of course, when the framers wrote the constitution, "arms" consisted of muzzle loaders!
To enter the debate, though, it would have been possible to stop this had the students been allowed to carry weapons. But, honestly, how many people carry guns around when they have a permit? It's almost a strawman argument. We don't know what would have happened if someone else were armed.
But all of this speculation ultimately doesn't matter. What we have is a kid who, for some unknown reason, went on a killing spree. If he owned the gun legally is irrelevant. Guns don't kill people - people kill people. In this case, a hurting college student committed a horrible crime against mankind. Words can't express the sorrow he left behind...
10. Chris Whisonant04/17/2007 11:08:52 AM
Oh, and don't miss the story of Professor Liviu Lebrescu
I really like the last paragraph from the link above:
In a 1974 speech in which he introduced returning POW John McCain to the CPAC convention, Ronald Reagan asked where we find such men. He answered, "We [find] them in our streets, in the offices, the shops and the working places of our country and on the farms." Professor Lebrescu's heroism reminds us that we also find them among those who come to this country from other lands.
11. Richard Schwartz04/17/2007 11:53:13 AM
Thanks for that link, Chris. I hadn't heard that yet.
12. Timothy Briley04/17/2007 12:16:56 PM
According to this article, fully automatic weapons are, with some exceptions, illegal for private citizens to own in the U.S.
On a related note, several years ago when there was a rash of rental car carjackings in Miami, it was found that rental cars were targeted due to the bad guys knowing that people flying into Miami weren't packing. To this day, rental cars in Miami don't have identifying marks on them such as "Hertz" or "Enterprise".
13. Chris Whisonant04/17/2007 12:30:08 PM
Thanks Timothy - I kind of hoped they were already illegal, but wasn't 100% certain.
14. Bruce Perry04/17/2007 12:48:06 PM
@12, I think it was more that markings made it easy to identify tourists and that tourists tend to have money/valuables than a matter of being armed/unarmed.
15. Colin Macdonald04/17/2007 01:23:33 PM
I'm a gun owner (non US) and have recently been through a violent event that would have had a different outcome had I been carrying at the time (Home invasion - Johannesburg where else). Probably the event that influenced Nathan.
However, contrary to what you'd expect, I'm not in favor of the "fanged sheep" principle as laid out above. Simply because it assumes a level of insecurity that equates to living in a war zone, and not many people would consciously do so.
If you live in an area that is considered safe, as most of the US would be, you are unlikely to feel the need to arm yourself constantly. In fact the very people that would do so are probably the exact people you don't want to have carrying weapons. It really only makes sense in places like Israel, where threats as well as weapon proficiency are a given.
That's not to say that the principle of "fanged sheep" is invalid, I just think we have to take a hard look at the drivers that support the idea and look at how far we would be willing to go. On the one hand, we have day-to-day personal safety, as in this case. On the other, the need to ensure a free state, which is what the constitution was addressing.
To my mind, the first does not warrant lethal weaponry, whilst the other may well. It's all in the problem focus and the degree of the corrective action required.
So I find it strange that there's no calls for R&D Money to be spent on developing better stun guns etc. Just calls to exacerbate the problem.
Violence begets violence, and once you start down that slippery slope you would do well to remember that people are not perfect, and as such, make mistakes.
I'd be a lot more comfortable with knowing my daughter can defend herself adequately with a suitable stun gun, whilst not having to worry about her killing someone accidentally or otherwise (she has a temper).
16. Nathan T. Freeman04/17/2007 02:31:43 PM
Now there's an interesting premise, Colin. Ubiquitous non-lethal weapons.
Problem is: a stun gun has an extremely limited range. Only on TV can you use one from 50 m.
17. Richard Schwartz04/17/2007 03:23:13 PM
@16, Nathan: In the hands of Joe Citizen under fire, a firearm has extremely limited useful range. By "useful", I mean that the probability (a) of correctly identifying that the situation contains a threat that requires action, (b) of correctly identifying the hostile target in the situation, and (c) of then hitting the live hostile target is sufficiently high; and that the probability of (d) incorrectly misinterpreting a non-hostile situation as being hostile, (e) of not correctly identifying the hostile target in the situation , and (f) of hitting someone else is sufficiently low.
More later. Just couldn't resist answering this one point right away.
Keep at it folks. This is very enlightening.
18. Chris Whisonant04/17/2007 03:48:20 PM
Right Rich. That's kind of the point I was making in my first comment - we don't know what would have happened. In this situation, though, we know that the hostile person was wielding a gun. So many of your probabilities would have been met by that fact - he was identifiable and was an imminent threat. It still leaves the question of hitting the target or someone else. Generally speaking, one with a gun permit would know how to use it to an extent. But none of us were there and for anyone to formulate concrete thoughts that if concealed weapons were allowed at VT then this wouldn't have happened or any other related theories is just insane.
I have a feeling your "more later" will probably need to just be a blog post of it's own!
19. Chris Whisonant04/17/2007 03:51:57 PM
Ahh, the irony... I just surfed over to Drudge and saw this link:
Two Secret Service officers were injured on Tuesday after a gun held by another Secret Service officer accidentally fired inside the White House gate, according to a spokesman, Darrin Blackford.
There goes the theory that people with guns know how to use them...
20. Bruce Perry04/17/2007 05:00:25 PM
@19, Ouch! That's got to be embarrassing. Not unlike this story from last year where a DEA agent shot himself in a firearms safety class
He gets credit for trying to go on with the talk, but minuses for trying to sue when the video was released.
21. Ken Yee04/17/2007 05:28:26 PM
Wow. Another blow for the Live Free Or Die state (NH's license plate motto). First, I find out that you can't buy bottle rockets there because they're terrorist banned (wanted to tie it to a coworker's buzz lightyear doll as a joke)...next I find out that The Schwartz (and John Head) doesn't understand that the RKBA is on the Individual Bill Of Rights...that pesky document where every other right listed is an individual right. Then I see Chris post that that only applies to muskets but I guess the right to free speech should apply to the Internet instead of handwritten scrolls of parchment paper
You guys probably live out in the countryside. If someone were doing something bad (shooting/knifing spree, etc.), and you call the cops, how long would it take them to rescue you and what do you do in the meantime? I'm in the city and it takes 10min. The VT shooter tested the police by calling in bomb threats. And for your education, check out this blog because the national media doesn't publicize self-defense stories:
BTW, I don't own a gun, but I am a Libertarian/Constitutionalist and have considered the ramifications/pros/cons and sorted the chaff from the obvious fluff...like the short blurb one of the NBC morning TV shows today where they had a gun control "debate" between a Brady Center spokesperson and Susanna Huffs (Luby widower)...the Brady person babbled mostly made up stuff like semi-automatics fire lots of shots w/ one pull (obvious lie, look it up) for 2/3 of the segment while the moderator told Susanna to be quiet while the other person was talking but let the Brady person interrupt Susanna. There's "unbiased" media for you..it's up to you whether you want to believe what you're fed or do a few quick google lookups to find out the truth...
My condolences to the VT families, but this guy was obviously determined and planned enough to do serious damage. If guns weren't there, he would have fashioned bombs out of propane tanks, unabomber style. He needed to be put down, as callous as that sounds...
22. Richard Schwartz04/17/2007 08:12:40 PM
Wow, Ken. That demands a separate answer from all the rest. The Schwartz fully undestands that the right to keep and bear arms is in the bill of rights, which is the supreme law of the land. But I also understand that even the supreme law can be changed. I understand that the "pesky document" as you so snidely called it, has been changed many times.
You call yourself a Constitutionalist, Ken, so surely you understand that this is a valid position. We can disagree on the issue at hand, but if you do not agree that it is valid to believe that when the Constitution is flawed it can and should be corrected through amendment, then you are no Constitutionalist. You are a Groupie who worships the words of men who did not want them to be worshipped.
IMHO, the 2nd amendment now stands as the strongest contemporary proof that the Founding Fathers were not perfect, not omniscient, not able to predict the future. There has been much proof of their fallibility over the past 220 years. Their greatest brilliance was, in fact, their own recognition of their fallibility, as demonstrated by the fact that they created the process for amending their own work, and (though not explicitly or even purposely) they also created the judiciary with the power to interpret their work.Many of the examples of their fallibility have been corrected through amendment over the past 220 years: slavery (and the 3/5ths rule), appointment of Senators, the runner up becoming Vice President, etc. Many other examples of their fallibility have been corrected through judicial interpretation. I respect these processes and their results, and when I state my opposition to the right to keep and bear arms, I understand that the amendment process is the recourse that is available for wholesale change, and that the judiciary is the recourse that is available for incremental refinement.
So, drop the knee-jerk claim that anyone who opposes the right to keep and bear arms is ignorant of the Bill of Rights and its present day standing as supreme law. Drop the position that anyone who opposes the right to keep and bear arms is against the Constitution. I'm confident that you know better than that.
As for doing a few google lookups to find out the truth, Ken, I assure you that I've been following this issue for long enough that I don't need to do that. I don't need to see anecdotal evidence of self-defense any more than you need to see anecdotal evidence of weapons intended for self-defense being turned into instruments of murder or accidental killing. There are statistics for both sides, and refutations of the statistics for both sides. All of that is useless. No valid conclusions can be drawn from any of it. And it is all irrelevant to my position on the issue.
My position boils down to simply this: a well regulated militia is no longer necessary to the security of a free state. It has not been necessary for more than 100 years. The standing military, the reserve military, the national guards of the various states, and the police forces of the various states, counties, and municipalities serve the purpose now. Yes, I know that federal law still classifies all (with certain exception, like post office employees) able-bodied men aged 18-45 as the "reserve militia" (or some such phrase), but that militia is not well-regulated (and yes, I am well aware of the correct meaning of that phrase) and there is absolutely no evidence that personally-owned firearms belonging to these people contribute one iota to the security of the USA. And since the prerequisite clause is no longer valid, the right is no longer in need of special Constitutional protection, so the people, states, and federal government should be freed from any constitutional restraints on their ability to consider and democratically enact rational measures to regulate and restrict firearms.
23. Carl04/17/2007 08:46:07 PM
I propose we step away from the academic discussion of guns to a more pragmatic one. The USA has had a "war on drugs" since the Regan presidency, and spent billions on this to date. Yet we can surely all agree that drugs are more or less freely available to any of us today. I just point this out as a proof point: that a "war on guns" would be equally unlikely to succeed.
Let me say this a bit differently. The one success of the "war on drugs" is that some number of law abiding citizens choose to not use illegal drugs (much as they might want to), simply to avoid the potential of being caught, or simply because they know it is "wrong." Similarly then, a "war on guns" is likely to generate the same outcome.
(Beginning of gratuitous controversy - I know the following comment is emotional to many people but i can't resist making it)
BTW, this would statistically increase the relative proportion of illegally owned guns to those legally owned or carried. If you think a "good guy" with a legal gun should blow away the "bad guy" before the police show up, this would be a bad thing. If you think any gun is an opportunity for disaster, then probably it would be a good idea to have a separate discussion thread with facts on the topic. Are there more injuries in the USA due to drunk driving than legally owned guns? By an order of magnitude? Try several orders of magnitude? Don't shout at me about this - just looking for facts here, not emotions. Yes, we're scared of guns, therefore they are bad, and besides even the vice president gets careless... but those aren't meaningful facts for the discussion.
(End of gratuitous controversy)
Again, I don't want to argue either side of the "right or wrong" conversation. It is wrong to have war in the middle east; we can agree; that doesn't lead to a pragmatic solution.
You could accuse me of a logic error if you believe a war on guns would be more successful than a war on drugs has been. But that would be a tough topic on which to build a convincing story.
24. Chris Whisonant04/17/2007 09:02:04 PM
Ken, deep breaths...
Ok, I said that the "arms" back then were muskets and I said it in the context of automatic weaponry. My pet peeve is when people don't read the context!! Like Rich said, they couldn't predict the future. That was the only point I was making as well - the context would have made that clear...
25. Ken Yee04/17/2007 09:28:14 PM
Sorry, Rich. Your initial blog post did not mention the 2nd Amendment, so you left room for that interpretation (as did Chris'). It's not a knee-jerk reaction, but it's understandably reasonable to assume as such given comments from media where they say similar things and absolutely ignore the 2nd Amendment (and do deliberate things to brainwash you by saying "the right to bear arms" instead of RKBA, etc.).
As for whether it can and should be amended, we'll have to agree to disagree there. I think the founding fathers would turn over in their graves if they've seen how we've ignored the BoR in the name of the "war on terror". The fear of a standing army was precisely why they wanted the 2nd amendment and if you're going to say people would never survive a government army attack, Iraq is unfortunately a good example against it...their "militia" will hold out longer than our troops will.
Carl: normal legal gunowners won't "blow away a bad guy" as you see in the movies. I think I might have mentioned this to you in a previous debate about this in your blog. The use is a last resort for a lot of legal/personal reasons. You *will* be charged w/ a crime by the police. You *will* spend 100K in legal fees defending yourself for the next year. You *will* lose your full-time job because employers don't want "vigilantes" working for them (and most of your friends will think the same way). You *will* get sued in civil court by the family of the low-life you had to defend yourself from. It's not something to use lightly.
And as for the "war on guns", there have been quotes from Boston cops in local papers that there are so many illegal guns on the streets already, magically taking away legal purchases would not affect the gun violence "epidemic" (another dumb brainwashing media term) much at all; the most recent quote was that there are less guns on the streets in Boston now, but there are more targetted hits (gang violence). Naturally, the politicians ignore this and add more rules that criminals will ignore, but then a few of our politicians are felons :rolleyes
In Japan (where they've already banned guns), a prominent politican was just recently shot by a gangster. There is also a lot of knife violence compared to the U.S. Evil always finds a way...
26. Richard Schwartz04/17/2007 10:06:49 PM
@22 Carl: I've never heard the phrase "war on guns" before. Not from someone who is in favor of gun control (or, as I prefer to refer to it, rational regulation of firearm ownership). Who is for it? Nobody. It's a catch-phrase of the gun lobby, used to smear their opposition. It's an idiotic concept on its face. If I were to inspire Constitutional and societal change, it would be an evolution away from a culture of gun-ownership based on a formal false premise of providing for the security of a free state, and on an informal but also false promise of providing for collective personal security. Talking about that is a pragmatic discussion. Talking about some purely fictional concept of a "war on guns" is not.
@Null, General comment: The news reports now indicate that at least one, if not both, of the firearms used by the Virginia Tech shooter was legally purchased about a month ago. I mention this for only one reason: to make plain the fact that this tragic event is a valid context for discussing gun control measures. Had it been the case that this massacre was perpetrated with an illegally possessed firearm, we could obviously still discusss the issue, but the discussion would be orthogonal to the current events.
@18 Chris: Yes, he was armed. But was he identifiable as the threat? That is an unanswerable question. What happens when there is gunfire and a half dozen or so people pull out their guns, and then they look around. Who do they think is the threat? And when more people run in, guns drawn, who do they think is the threat? The police make mistakes in the heat of fire, as do soldiers and they have a lot more training in threat identification and response than an armed Joe Public has.
@15 Colin: Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I'm not a fan of slippery slope arguments, and I've made my position on the "security of a free state" clear above, but still your comment is very much on point and very well put. Thanks.
@4 Nathan: I have to disagree. It is a ludicrous proposition. Just look at sub-cultures where concealed weapons are the norm: e.g., organized crime, street gangs, and even rap artist entourages (yes, I know there's probably some overlap there). Is this Heinlein's "polite society"? Are their guns a "force equalizer"? I won't ask whether they are more or less likely than your average citizen to kill or be killed with a gun, because they are inherently (at least in the case of organized crime and street gangs) involved in situations that put them at greater risk, which skews the answer; but its clear that their guns fail to be force equalizers all to frequently.
And furthermore, even with police officers, the more guns present in any given situation, the greater the chance of a mistaken threat idenfication, mistaken reaction, or mistaken aim -- and it is non-linear since there are more stimuli to react to. With untrained Joe Publics in unpredictable numbers at any given scene, unfamiliar with each other's mannerisms and not even knowing who is armed and who isn't, the chances of bad outcomes have got to go way, way up.
27. Richard Schwartz04/17/2007 10:39:26 PM
@25 Ken: Although I believe that my writing style tends to signal that I am a reasonably well educated person, and some of the subjects about which I occasionally write tend to signal that I do pay attention to the world around me, in the future I'll try to bear in mind that I need to preface any mention of gun politics with "I am aware of the 2nd amendment and the fact that it is the supreme law of the land at present time" in order to properly establish that I am smarter than a 5th grader.
And regarding the fear of a standing army, that boat has long since sailed. The standing army exists, is not going away, is an effective means of preserving the security of a free state, and is not a threat to that very security. Note that I do understand that their fear was understandable given the circumstances. Checks and balances were an unproven concept at the time that they had that fear. Republican democracy under a constitution, with the people leading a "revolution every four years" (as some have put it) was a very much unproven concept. But circumstances are different 220 years later. These things have proven to work well and thus with the evolution of our Constitutional system and institutions of government, their fear has proved unfounded.
28. Richard Schwartz04/17/2007 11:12:54 PM
@21 Ken: In earlier responses, I forgot to mention that as of now, I believe that the claim the the shooter "tested the police by calling in bomb threats" is conjecture by the speculationcasters. Yes, there were bomb threats, and I just read that a written bomb threat was found in his backpack, but as of now nobody in authority has connected him to the called-in threats.
29. Colin Macdonald04/18/2007 06:25:23 AM
@16 - Nathan: As Rich points out, the efficacy of a firearm in the average Joe's hands is not as high as we'd like to believe or need in order to obtain the objective of self defense without unacceptable collateral damage.
I'm not trying to enter the gun debate. I'm non-US and thus don't feel I can or should (I don't even qualify as 5th grader using Rich's constitutional metric).
However I have a unique perspective regarding gun control. Having lived in South Africa pre and post Apartheid, having had military training as well as having consulted with our local police commissioner regarding gun use in a civilian aspect.
In the SADF, we were taught how to use "minimum force" to achieve objectives in urban situations. Believe me it's not easy and not something Joe Public will even come close to without extensive training. Yet our law, and US law by the sounds of things, requires that you use "minimum force" to defend yourself (this is of course contrary to what we see in movies which is part of the problem).
Add to that the legal accountability aspect of self defense and there is a huge burden on Joe Public. That's why I feel, if you look at it objectively, about 90+% of Joe Public are unqualified to carry guns, yet it's the only alternative currently for self defense.
So yes, we're not there yet in a technology sense, but we should definitely be looking at making something like a stun gun as ubiquitous as the cellphone. It would offer an alternative and hopefully remove a lot of the emotion from the debate.
30. Colin Macdonald04/18/2007 07:34:41 AM
Note: I didn't mention marksmanship as a required skill set above, since that is an integral part of using "minimum force".
31. Chris Whisonant04/18/2007 08:49:31 AM
@27 - Re: paragraph 1 -
32. Nathan T. Freeman04/18/2007 10:23:10 AM
"What happens when there is gunfire and a half dozen or so people pull out their guns, and then they look around. Who do they think is the threat?"
The one who continues firing, of course. And if the consequence of the drawn guns is that the shooter stops firing, then mission accomplished.
"It is a ludicrous proposition. Just look at sub-cultures where concealed weapons are the norm: e.g., organized crime, street gangs, and even rap artist entourages (yes, I know there's probably some overlap there)."
Actually, traditional organized crime is extremely polite as a demographic.
Street gang violence is almost 100% a product of drug prohibition. Are they "polite?" I have no idea. But if you want to solve a problem enabled by drug prohibition, adding firearm prohibition hardly seems the route.
"The standing army exists, is not going away, is an effective means of preserving the security of a free state, and is not a threat to that very security."
Oh wow. Could I possibly disagree more? I can agree that it's not going away. But an effective means of preserving security? Not since about 1850. That's the last time I can think of when the security of the United States was viably threatened. (Okay, you can stretch it to the US Civil War if you want, but elements of standing army vs. elements of standing army doesn't lend any credence.)
Since the mid-19th century, the standing army has ONLY been used to entangle the US in deeper and deeper foreign alliances, massively eroding our security by creating dependencies and obligations all over the planet, culminating in modern day scenarios like 9/11 and Iraq.
Militarily, the US has basically been an island nation for the last 150 years. Therefore there is some prudence to having a standing Navy (and in the modern era, an Air Force) to protect coastal invasion. All other military deployments are driven by motives far removed from the "security of a free state." At least, as long as the state under consideration is the US itself.
If you believe that foreign animosity toward the US is a threat to security, the standing army has been bad. If you believe that fiscal irresponsibility is a threat to security, the standing army has been bad. If you believe that civil liberty violations are a threat to security, the standing army has been bad. If you believe that zealous nationalism is a threat to security, the standing army has been bad. If you believe the most crackpot conspiracy theories about the military-industrial complex, the standing army has been bad.
Rich, you are indeed an educated man, who I respect a great deal. But I've heard your views on US imperialism on this very blog. All that's enabled by the standing army. Surely this is clear, isn't it?
33. Nathan T. Freeman04/18/2007 10:38:10 AM
appointment of Senators
It's EXTREMELY debatable whether that change was a good idea, given the massive erosion of states' rights over the 20th century. Do you really think that the commerce clause would have gained the kind of insane power it has now if senators were still elected by state legislatures?
34. Ken Yee04/18/2007 11:01:39 AM
Colin&Rich: the reason I pointed out that self-defense blog is that a lot of people think "guns are evil" and "guns go off" (as the media is prone to say, which is ridulous, but they're trying to say that guns should be gotten rid of instead of blaming the person misusing the tool). The only usage of guns we normally see in the media is when they're used for horrible crimes like the VT incident. Like most tools, they can be used for good or evil. When they are used for good, they do save people's lives and that has to be taken into account in any debate on whether they should be banned, yet it hardly ever is in the media or w/ politicians except Susanna Huffs being one of the few exceptions.
Also, as for the marksmanship comment...a large chunk of police barely qualify each year and only practice the week before the requalification (I have a relative in the BPD who tells me amusing stories). They joined so they could help people and some of them hate that they have to use guns. Just because a person has a badge does not mean they are expert marksmen...and if they miss, they have the department protecting them from most of the legal fees, unlike a civilian who does the same.
Nathan: ditto on the standing army.
I'm surprised people don't realize that the police can't be everywhere after the New Orleans flooding fiasco. Most people also don't know that the National Guard and New Orleans police (what was left of them) confiscated legally owned firearms and have refused to return them or "lost" them (BoR? Where? Not in New Orleans apparently). For those who are curious about this, you can Google up the stories.
35. Richard Schwartz04/18/2007 11:42:55 PM
@32 Nathan: re "The one who continues firing". That would, in far too many cases, be the choice that results in needless escalation of violence. See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15918902/
Re "traditional organized crime is extremely polite as a demographic." Not in the metaphorical way that the Heinlein quote used the word "polite". Not even close.
Re "Street gang violence is almost 100% a product of drug prohibition." False. Violent street gangs pre-date modern drug laws. http://www.gripe4rkids.org/his.html
"Street gang violence is almost 100% a product of drug prohibition." Non sequitur. Whatever the reason they carry their guns, it is crystal clear that their guns do not serve as effective force equalizers.
Re "the standing army has ONLY been used to entangle..." Assuming that were true (which it isn't, though I would agree if you dropped the "ONLY"), it would not be a problem with the standing army. The Constitution grants sufficient power to the executive and legislative branches to use the militia for the same foreign policy purposes that they have used the standing army. (And if it didn't, yet the standing army were still not an option, the Constitution would have long ago been amended to grant the necessary powers over the militia.)
Thus, if it were true (which it isn't), it would be a problem with the civilian foreign policy managers in the executive branch who exercise control over the military. It would be a problem with the legislative branch that fails to exercise oversight over the executive's management of foreign policy, and has even abrogated its responsibility for declaring war. And ultimately, it would be a problem with the people who, despite having the right to engage in a democratic revolution every four years, too often have elected people to the executive and legislative branch who advocate and pursue misguided foreign policy.
@34 Ken: re "I'm surprised people don't realize that the police can't be everywhere" Who doesn't realize it? Above (@21) you said "You guys probably live out in the countryside". Well I don't, and never have, and yet I understand that the police can't be everywhere. I don't want the police to be everywhere. I want to live in a society where the police don't have to be everywhere. I want to live in a society where the police have to be where the crime and violence is. And I know that the fewer the guns, the less easy it is to obtain guns, the closer we can be to such a society; yet I also know that we can never get all the way there. I know I can't live in a place where I am perfectly protected from crime and violence, but I accept that there are risks in this world and I accept that it sometimes is up to me to make choices regarding the level of risk that is acceptable to me, and as a matter of fact my choice of the place where I live now is influenced by (but not dictated by) that consideration.
36. Bruce Perry04/19/2007 01:08:45 AM
@35, "the fewer the guns, the less easy it is to obtain guns, the closer we can be to such a society"
The number of guns available is not the only factor involved. I'd say there are cultural factors involved too (and doubt that you'd disagree). Will we ever be able to untangle what's behind the different levels of gun violence in different countries? Probably not easily, but it would be an interesting subject.
England and Japan have low levels of gun violence and generally low firearm availability Switzerland has a low level of gun violence and fairly high gun availability. My impression was that Israel was similar to Switzerland in that regard, but I can't confirm that at present. Some Central and South American countries have gun violence rates higher than ours, and others are much less.
For the record, I'm perfectly willing to see longer waiting periods with more stringent qualifications. I think it's shocking that in the midst of our "war on terror", that the FBI has been forced to get rid of background check data almost as soon as they're done with it. What if a terrorist decided to use domestically purchased firearms in an attack? Wouldn't the FBI want enough data to see a pattern develop?
I'm willing to consider other measures too, but the closer the measure comes to an outright ban, the less I like it. Perhaps that's just the way I was raised, but I have come to be disappointed in the NRA's total intransigence.
Below is a link to one set of statistics on the subject. Murder and suicide have been separated. That's useful because cursory articles on the subject often combine these numbers.
It would appear to be a generally pro-gun site and the years studied are over a decade old. These are very similar to a much smaller, but 5 years more recent set of data on an anti-gun site. I can't vouch for either set of numbers.
37. Nathan T. Freeman04/19/2007 07:23:18 AM
In this case, Rich, the discussion is about to bring out the worst in me, so we'll agree to disagree. Good luck in the future.
38. Danny Lawrence04/19/2007 10:40:24 AM
I'm coming late to this discussion, but I want to comment on one of the points Rich made in his original posting.
WRTO "prevalence of guns in the Blacksburg, VA", a friend of mine (and VA resident) once asked me this, "You live in Virginia, you take your gun out, put it in the trunk of your car, drive to a shooting range, buy some ammo and spend the next hour or so shooting a targets. Question: what license(s) are needed to do this?
Answer: Your driver's license"
This may have been changed since I was told this (this was before the Brady bill), but I thought I'd throw that observation into the mix
39. Ken Yee04/19/2007 02:56:50 PM
Bruce, regarding "FBI has been forced to get rid of background check data almost as soon as they're done with it":
That's because it's been proven in history that our politicians can't keep their "we've got to dooooo something to save the childrennnnn" hands off that list as as basis for confiscation when they instituted their eventual bans. Look up NYC gun confiscation in google to see what I mean. Canada also did something similar IIRC.
Danny, regarding "Your driver's license" comment:
That doesn't bypass the federal/state background check that was required. If you're a citizen in good standing (no felonies, etc. on your record), why shouldn't that be enough? It's far more than is done w/ drunken drivers (who, BTW can take their inanimate object...a car and use it to drive to work or to plow into a crowd that had just gotten out of a ball game...good/evil again).
Licensing is a big enough topic for another long thread. Imagine if your driver's license requirements vary from town to town and the license issuer can decide that you can only use your car for driving to work but not to pick up friends or you need 3 recommendations from people who know you before they'll give you a license so you can drive to work. That's how wacky gunowner licensing is in most states...well at least in MA
Now that we know more of the VT story, we can say w/ certainty that the VT nut was headed down a path of doing others harm. Given his writings, he would have been just as happy doing it w/ other tools instead of a gun (chainsaws, hammers, knives, and bombs probably, w/ his worship of the Columbine nuts, would not have been out of the question if guns weren't available). His psychological problems were spotted many times in the past few years but not enough was done to save him from going postal, though it seems he had the psychotropic anti-depressants that everyone seems to get nowadays; I'd hope the discussion will focus blame on the person rather than blaming inanimate tools again. The Columbine incident should have been a wakeup call to people to spot people like this and help them sooner. Hopefully, we won't have another discussion like this in a few years about more copycat social misfits...
40. Patrick M04/19/2007 04:19:28 PM
@36 Bruce [quote]Switzerland has a low level of gun violence and fairly high gun availability[/quote]
As a Swiss who served in the army, this had me chime in late into the discussion.
While it's true that every Swiss soldier (~ 60% of males) has his assault rifle provided by the army at home in some closet or basement, and ammo for one charger sealed in a can, it is also a fact that they are rarely used to go on a shooting rage.
Because of pure fear of the consequences. You kill someone with your army rifle or pistol, you'll face charges in civil *and* military court. Knowing that military laws are much more drastic, you might get about three times the sentence in the latter court that a civil court would pronounce. This has the majority of people refrain from using their army provided weapons.
Over the past two years or so, there seems to have been an increase of these cases, though. While I think it's mostly an increase of media coverage about any occurrence of an army weapon having been used, it has triggered a big hype in parliament about abolishing this tradition of ..... sumfing like after WWII or even earlier than that.
Yes, because of some isolated cases using their army weapon out of the hundreds of thousands rifles stored at home, some left wing political pussies (who probably never served anyway, yes we still have a draft , but they must've been among the 40% who get away for medical reasons and such) have no better idea than to do away with this.
To put it short: the political cretins in Switzerland are no better than anywhere else, since they can't come up with other ideas than a ban on weapons.
Yes, ban everything. You'll see what's coming to you.
41. Bruce Perry04/19/2007 04:59:57 PM
@40 - Patrick, thanks for your info on Switzerland. It's good to get an informed perspective on what's happening there with regard to guns and gun crime.
I think it's worth noting that nobody here, not even Rich, has called for an outright ban on guns. The NRA view that any more regulation than we currently have is a prelude to confiscation is one I understand (after all, I grew up with it), but I think there is room for compromise.
42. Richard Schwartz04/20/2007 12:37:02 AM
@36 Bruce: Obviously, I agree fully that the number of guns is not the only factor. If that weren't obvious, the cross-cultural stats would make it so. But it is also important to not read too much into them in the other direction either. Both Israel and Switzerland have high levels of military training to go along with their high level of gun ownership; Israel's citizens have lived all their lives in a state of "high alert"; and there are many other factors, for example Switzerland's very high GDP/capita and relatively homogenous ethnic citizenry.
@40 Patrick: Thanks for that info, I was surprised to learn that 40% managed to avoid service. I had heard that it was very difficult to get out of it.
@37 Nathan: So be it.
@38 Danny: As we now know, the VA Tech shooter was known to the authorities, but was found to not be a threat to himself or others to the extent that was required for institutionalization. But had those authorities been notified that he was purchasing handguns, I suspect that it's quite possible that a re-evaluation may have been done.
@39 Ken: re "If you're a citizen in good standing (no felonies, etc. on your record), why shouldn't that be enough?" Ask the families of the 32 victims whether they think that a history of depression, stalking behavior, violent ideations and a martyr complex should or should not be taken into account.
And re "he would have been just as happy doing it w/ other tools instead of a gun" The psychological profile of a spree shooter is quite different from that of a bomber. The key difference is that bombers rage is impersonal, whereas the shooters is personal. Shooters want to see their victims die. Bombers don't. They are not easily interchangeable, so I have to challenge you on that. This fellow could easily have turned to knives, chainsaws, etc., but he wouldn't have exacted as great a toll that way. And frankly, my guess is that he'd be more likely to seek black market guns if legal guns weren't available to him.
@41 Bruce: Correct. I have never advocated an outright ban. I do favor far more stringent background checking for initial purchase and for re-licensing on an annual basis, and even more for concealed carry. And I do favor very strict training and requalification requirements (in the spirt of "well-regulated") for those who do qualify. And I would favor a number of ways to avoid much of this regulation -- but this thread is getting long and I don't want to get into that level of detail at this point. And if the constitution needs to be amended to make this level of control and regulation possible, then I absolutely favor that.
43. Ken Yee04/20/2007 10:31:39 PM
That should have been prosecuted. The setting fire to a dorm room should have been prosecuted. They should have been felonies on the guy's record. He should not have been able to buy guns if the system worked properly. There are also 20,000 gun laws in the country. How many laws did the guy violate that day? I agree w/ you that he would have just found some illegally if he couldn't buy one. However, he would have triggered an investigation (hopefully) for trying to buy one if the system had worked properly.
"psychological profile of a spree shooter is quite different from that of a bomber"
Explain the Columbine kids. They planted bombs. They were intending to do a lot more carnage but the bombs didn't go off. That breaks your psychological profile. I maintain he worshipped the Columbine kids because he empathized with them because he was picked on and made fun of and was unstable enough to cause harm in whatever way possible.
"strict training and requalification requirements"
Believe it or not, I don't mind that either for CCW, as long as the training is taken into consideration if you ever have to shoot anyone in self-defense. However, what you have failed to address is how to keep the politicians from turning this into an excuse/tool to take licenses away or abuse their power. Here in Boston, you have to get a 180/200 score on a shooting range test using their gun (you can't even qualify w/ yours) before you can get any license (yes even a target shooting restricted license)...yes even if you are a newbie; you get failed if you pick up the gun w/o asking them to show you that it's safed. In San Fran, only the best buds of the politicians can get a license; Senator Feinstein regularly brandishes her licensed weapon in front of others to see (something that would get anyone else thrown in jail) while preventing any citizens from getting a license . Can you honestly say that is fair or just? Or will you just say that's ok w/ you and look the other way because it keeps more people from getting licenses? I'm sure that's what the politicians are saying, though they're looking straight at the peons at their feet
I note you didn't respond to the ridiculous per-city, per-state (you can't cross state lines because not all states have reciprocity) licensing. If I told you I was going to restrict people who could vote only if they could enumerate and understand the BoR, I don't suppose that would be a problem either? After all, the right to vote and RKBA are on the BoR; why don't you want only informed citizens to vote? Yes, you can amend the BoR. The fact remains that politicians and media are already tossing the BoR to the wind and that is what I have an issue with. If they so blithely ignore and abuse the RKBA now (and lots of other incursions with the "Patriot Act", aka the "let's name it so people like because the stupid people won't bother reading it to see what it affects" act...like the "Assault Weapons Ban" which didn't really do that but did a lot more), I can only imagine what they'd do if you amend it to give them more power to do what they want...
44. steve04/21/2007 05:13:59 PM
I respect the elevated level of argumentation on this blog. My two cents have to do with non-lethal self defense. As an American, I feel ashamed by our lack of better gun control, which no doubt led to the killer (with his known psychological history) being able to get his guns so easily. As for the argument about whether or not the students should have been armed to protect themselves, I feel they should have been armed with powerful and accurate stun guns, rather than lethal pistols. I see nothing wrong with an entire student body owning such weapons for self-defense. Yes, perhaps some of them would use the weapons illegally, but at least no one would die as a result. An entire student body owning guns would be very dangerous. Just imagine a fight breaking out a party full of drunken students... I think we've all seen it happen. And then imagine how easy it would be for a drunk student in the heat of the moment using his gun to kill someone. When I was a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a very peaceful town, a fight broke out at a student party and a man was killed with a gun. It happens. Ideally, we would promote a culture in which self-defense weapons were entirely non-lethal but effective, and in which hunting riffles were readily available to those who can prove themselves responsible enough to own them and use them for their proper purposes. I can't see how an NRA member would refute this argument and suggest that handguns in the hands of the students would be better than stun guns... such a person would clearly be blinded by the dogma of the NRA... We have the technology. We could make it happen. We could promote a safe public and encourage lessons in the usage of non-lethal weapons for everyone, starting in high school. Why not? People need to be ready for the ugly world, ready to defend themselves, but there is a way to do this without killing people.
45. Pete McPhedran05/01/2007 02:17:53 PM
I read a lot of arguments here for and against the "rights" American's feel they have/should have or shouldn't have, but what about the non-rights aspects?
Things like, glorification of ownership, brandishing, using and misusing of guns (hand/rifle/semi-auto/auto, military, fantasy, etc...) in things like; tv, movies, magazines, talk shows, video games and online.
Holding off for a moment the idea of censorship, I'll get there in a minute, doesn't it seem that the whole concept of glorifying or romanticising, however you want to describe it, the killing of human beings is contributing dramatically to the desire for some of these people to own a weapon in the first place, vs some desire to defend your country? Then extend that to the minority of those people that acquire the weapon to use it illegally? i.e. killing sprees, commitment of a crime, etc...?
Back to censorship, of course in the paragraph above I was talking about movies, video games, etc that glorify killing sprees, terrorism and revenge. Please understand that I am not saying the solution is to ban movies with guns. I do not advocate censorship at that level. Perhaps that brings up the concept of parents actually being involved in their children's lives to be aware of what their children are watching, reading, listening to and ensuring they are getting the right message, while not stifling their ability to expand their horizons through censorship. I think if someone wants to watch a massively violent film, they should be allowed to, but parents need to be responsible for what their underage children are allowed to watch.
So, arming all of the VT students, that was a good one. So let's say that students were allowed to carry weapons on campus, how many are licensed to own a gun now? How many of the licensed ones would want to carry one to school? How many of the licensed students, that chose to carry a weapon to school that day would have been in a position to shoot the killer? How many of them would have hit, only the killer? How many shots would it have taken? How many currently unlicensed students would get a license knowing that they could now carry a weapon on campus?
Perhaps if these things were addressed, without legislation, the issue of the "right" to bear arms would be minimized and the debate would be more around education and allowing people to be responsible. Then perhaps federal laws could be introduced to eliminate the confusion around the multiple State/county/city/backyard laws that seem to exist. That sounds like a can of worms waiting to be opened, eh?
As a Canadian, I always thought the "right to bear" arms thing was about defending your country, not your tv. I have since come to know that is a raging debate, so I am not looking to be educated in that right now, but thanks for the offer.
My $0.02 CDN.
46. Ken Yee05/02/2007 10:17:45 AM
Pete: you bring up a good point about the media. I believe a lot of our issues are because of their glorification of violence. I even had a friend from another country visit and say "I thought you had easy access to machine guns because they're in movies so much" (which prompted a long education discussion on what our convoluted laws are really like and how you have to jump through hoops to get a firearm). Unfortunately, a lot of the public also does not look to check to see if what they are fed by the media (even local/national news) is real or not, despite the Internet making this much easier; a lot of fallacies are promoted as "truth", so it's hard to get a non-emotional, truthful debate where you spend half the discussion trying to correct these media errors.
As for your "what is the probability someone can stop a crime", you'd have to ask the same question of the effectiveness of police. Have a read of the self-defense blog I posted a link to for a week and make your own judgement.
On the amusing side, I saw this in the paper today which reminded me of this blog entry:
Note the student who no longer feels safe knowing this, yet the policy has been in effect since 2004...
47. Pete McPhedran05/05/2007 08:40:08 AM
I read that self defence post, but again, as a Canadian, I am surprised. It is hard for me to fathom all these people with weapons in their possession. Case in point, I live in Toronto, getting worse for crime, but I am originally from Sarnia which is very near Detroit, so I have experienced worse. The other day I was having breakfast with some colleagues and some ETF members were seated at the table next to us. They wee fully decked out in their fatigues and armed pretty well and this was the topic of discussion for the better part of breakfast, how we all felt about loaded weapons 3 metres from us.
As for the last link, I think its very funny what Mr "Justin Ligon, 23, a Virginia Tech student and vice president of the school's Pistol and Rifle Club" said:
He said it is unlikely that bringing guns on campus would make school more dangerous.
"People with those permits, they go through a background check," he said. "Generally the people who go through that trouble aren't people who are gong to fly off the handle and do something dangerous."
Ah, didn't Mr mass murderer at VT have a license to carry a weapon? Go through a background check AND was pretty much determined to be a loose screw? It's this kind of irony that boggles my mind.
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