Today is truly a sad day due to the tragedy that took place earlier as the quiet campus of Virginia Tech reverberated with gunfire. The shootings began about 7:15 AM and continued for several hours before the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, took his own life. The death toll stands at thirty-two and there are a large number of students and faculty who were wounded. It is reported that the gunman went from classroom to classroom shooting faculty and students. According to accounts, the gunman carried both a 9mm and .22 caliber handgun. He appears to have also carried several magazines of ammunition.
One student reported that the gunman entered their classroom and shot their teacher before firing at students who remained in their seats. The witness said that he and others in the room dropped to the floor and overturned their desks to protect themselves from the gunfire.
This stands as the worst shooting incident on a university campus in U.S. history. The worst shooting prior to this incident was in 1966 when Charles Whitman went to the clock tower on the University of Texas and began a 90 minute shooting spree that left sixteen people dead before he was killed by a law enforcement officer.
While the nation mourns this immense loss of innocent life, we must realize that two ways exist for looking at these terrible events. The manner that we choose will dictate how to best move forward. I wonder which will prevail:
Option 1: Cries of "We need more gun control!"
Obviously, this deranged psycho doesn't have enough laws telling him it is illegal to kill people at Virginia Tech. We need to quickly pass legislation banning guns and voiding concealed handgun licenses. We can finally stop these senseless shootings by creating some rules that these demented people will follow! We'll tell them they can't own rifles with a certain shaped stock or handguns that hold an arbitrary amount of ammunition. That will provide the missing piece of the puzzle picture that already includes 30,000 gun laws ranging from banning any gun on a college campus in Virginia to, of course, banning murder. Just one more law will turn everything into a Utopia where criminals and the mentally insane alike seek and succeed in productive professions.
If you follow the gun rights movement in America, you are probably well aware of the skyrocketing crime rates in England that they have enjoyed since banning nearly all firearms. You see, "gun violence" is up nearly 40% since those actions were taken. Perhaps the UK is just an isolated example. Maybe we need to keep our college campuses safe by following the lead of another nation, Australia. The Aussies have also said that gun control is the answer to criminal intent and have subsequently banned every semi-auto and pump-action firearm in the country.
How are they faring? Unfortunately, a study found on this page
of the official website of the Australian Institute of Criminology says that gun bans have had the opposite effect and made their streets less safe. The New Zealand Herald says
about that study:
CANBERRA - The introduction of tough laws to control guns and knives appears to be failing to keep lethal weapons out of the hands of Australian criminals.
. reported that while new laws may have helped reduce the number of knives and guns in illicit circulation, they have failed to deter hard-core criminals. It also pointed to a large firearms black market.
Almost two-thirds had been bought illegally from friends, family or on the street, with an even higher proportion, 66 per cent, of knives coming from illicit sources. And many carried their weapons regularly despite tough laws against possession in public places. Almost one-third of knife-owning prisoners regularly went out on the streets with their weapons tucked into pockets, boots, clothing or bags, while 14 per cent of gun owners said they carried their firearms with them. The study said that drug users were more likely to use these weapons.
"The illicit trade in firearms is a challenge for law enforcement because some individuals appear undeterred by the penalties associated with their illegal trade and ownership."
I'm shocked... SHOCKED... to learn that criminals continue to break the law.
Let's study this graphic
from the same Australian Institute of Criminology which shows the trend in the number of assaults that were charged between 1995-2003? They've nearly doubled despite the new laws that were supposed to eradicate violent behavior.
These informative facts neatly summarize the argument for more gun control. It appears to me that this course of action may not be best once we allow ourselves to use trifling devices like logic, common sense, and historical facts from other countries that have tried the route of increased gun control and only made conditions worse.
Is there an alternative? How about telling our elected officials to stop tilting at windmills and attempt to do something that may provide a chance of saving lives? Perhaps we could try:
Option 2: Stop enacting roadblocks for law-abiding citizens that merely desire the means to defend themselves.
This suggestion recognizes the fact that criminals, by definition, break the law. They prefer legislation that disarms the good guys. We know this from their own words
. Gun control makes their task of robbing, raping, and murdering people in college dormitories that much easier. When is the last time you heard of a psycho deciding to shoot up a police station? How about a gun shop? Gun show? NRA Convention? Why not? Instead, when I ask you to think of places where these mass slaughters occur, what pops into your head? Schools?... Post Offices?... Churches?... What do these places have in common? Simple: The law makes it very difficult to carry defensive tools there. Coincidence? Perhaps not. Predators prey on the weak. They don't seek out difficult targets.
Now, I'm not saying that lifting many of the 30,000 existing gun laws will eliminate crime. Unfortunately, I think that there will always be bad people in the world.
However, lifting those prohibitions would give honest people a chance to defend themselves rather than simply being fish in a barrel. That's what the Virginia Tech victims were to this psycho: easy targets. If people were able to legally carry defensive firearms there, a chance would exist that someone could have minimized these terrible results. Let us remember the somewhat recent Utah Mall Shooting
that was in the news. A man and his concealed handgun was able to stop a violent gunman and minimize casualties. How about a 1997 incident where Vice Principal Joel Myrick stopped a school shooting
in Pearl, Mississippi after taking several minutes to leave his office, run all the way to the parking lot, unlock his truck, unlock a gun case, retrieve ammunition, load his gun, run back to the school, and confront the shooter? How many more people would have been slaughtered if not for the brave actions of these two men? How many children were killed while Vice Principal Myrick retrieved his self-defense tools that he wasn't permitted to keep with him?
But wait... you should know that the Virginia Legislature has already tried to allow people to defend themselves on college campuses as recently as January of 2006:
Gun bill gets shot down by panel
HB 1572, which would have allowed handguns on college campuses, died in subcommittee.
A bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus died with nary a shot being fired in the General Assembly.
House Bill 1572 didn't get through the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety. It died Monday in the subcommittee stage, the first of several hurdles bills must overcome before becoming laws.
Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."
Thank you, Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker. I'm sure people felt
safer. But were they?
I recall seeing legitimate news sources and comedy programs alike sniping at Wisconsin State Representative Frank Lasee's attempt to enact legislation
allowing trained professionals to carry defensive firearms in his state's schools after the Pennsylvania Amish School tragedy that took place a few months ago. His logical suggestion that actually attempted to do
something was only met with criticism and mockery.
Hopefully, our society can wake up and seek real answers rather than continuing in our current downward spiral of feel-good, do-nothing legislation.