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Time to rethink our gun laws

By Doug Thompson
April 23, 2007

It is time to reconsider how we sell, market and license guns in this country.

I say this as a lifelong hunter, longtime member (until recently) of the National Rifle Association and owner of enough guns to arm a revolution in a small country.

Like it or not, guns have become a way to settle grudges, achieve notoriety, advance causes and express one’s self in our violence-prone society.

For years, the NRA and other pro-gun activists have argued that tightening the gun laws in this country would only make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy weapons while criminals would be armed and a threat to society.

That argument became moot last week when Seung-Hui Cho used two handguns he purchased legally to gun down 32 fellow students and faculty members at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA – the worst mass killing on a school campus in American history.

Virginia’s background check system, run by the State Police and considered the model for the nation, didn’t know anything about Cho’s mental problems because his one and only hearing before a judge did not qualify for inclusion in the record.

Yes, that’s a loophole that state and federal legislators are now scrambling to close but even when it’s closed it won’t be the only loophole in laws that put too many guns in the hands of too many people who have no business owning or carrying weapons.

Virginia is also a concealed carry state – a place where anyone with a relatively-clean criminal record and half-day course in gun safety can obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon.

That half-day course teaches the basics of gun safety along with some rudimentary target practice. It does not prepare a person for a potential life-threatening situation where he or she may be threatened with a weapon and forced to defend themselves.

Yet some pro-gun advocates claim that if students and faculty at Virginia Tech had been allowed to pack heat they would have stopped Cho before he took out 32 lives. Virginia delegate Morgan Griffith, the ultra-right wing leader of Virginia Republicans, tried to ram legislation through the General Assembly what would give students the right to carry concealed weapons. Fortunately, it failed.

If Griffith and his cronies had been allowed to turn Tech into an armed camp the odds were good that the body count would have been far higher. Campus police spend most of their time breaking up drunken brawls at frat parties and athletic events. They shudder at the thought of adding concealed weapons to that volatile mix.

I’m not advocating a ban on guns. Far from it. But I do think it is past time that we take a long, hard look at the laws that regulate the sale of guns – all guns – to those who hunt, those to target shoot and those who feel the need to set up an armory in their home.

We license people to drive in this country and some states require a multi-day course in drivers’ education to obtain a permit. Those same states will take away a license to drive for even misdemeanor violations of traffic law. Yet nothing short of a serious felony can threaten a person’s ability to own or carry a firearm.

In a nation where too many guns threaten the peace and security of its citizens it is time to reconsider laws that allow too many murders and too much violence.

33 Responses to Time to rethink our gun laws

  1. Razor

    April 23, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    All of the lone nutter killers of late seem to have something in common. They were all on psycotopic drugs. Prozac, Zolof, anti-depressent stuff. I see it being more than lone killers. How do you get societies to give up individual rights and to accept more and more government control over evermore aspects of everyday life? You use individuals who have undergone government sponsored mind control projects such as MKUlTRA. A person is given alternate personalities which are totally separate and do not recognize each or any by the person who is controlled. This is well documented and the project was later changed to the Monarch Project( manchurian)

    The shooters at Columbine and the other school shootings including the one in England and the Amish Community were all known to be on anti-depressant medications. These types of drugs are a tool of the handlers, in fact much of the development of these drugs was from mind control projects of the military.

    Problem, Reaction, Solution. This is the scenario that is going on, no ban is going to change that. The government wants absolute total control over all americans and this latest bizar act is just more conditioning, just like 911. Anyone notice the simularities? Nobody listened to the warnings. Federal agencies did not respond and even ordered a standown.

    Ask any of the surviviors if they could have stopped the shooter well before 32 were killed, had they a weapon. Its not guns, its nut cases who are used to promote fear. Then freedom is easily taken away and more big brother is accepted. Criminals dont follow laws, so how will making laws have any effect other than on law abiding people. We should look deeper into who and what is behind atrocities like 911 and these mass killings. Its more than the lone nutter scenario.

  2. buckethead

    April 23, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    buckethead
    Right on Roadapple00 if we have to qualify to drive it should be the same for guns. My Grandad was a sheriff and Texas Ranger and I have his guns (heirlooms) and my sport guns and I have to agree with you that qualifacation is a good idea. One of my best freinds who owns more guns than anyone I know (like Doug) wants to know how a maniac like Cho could get them so easy. Oh yeah, Virginia.

  3. Paolo

    April 23, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Many have asked if I could, gosh, actually shoot someone if I were locked in a room, with a single deranged gunman mowing down innocent people.

    Of course I could. Would it be traumatic? Of course. Could most people do it, in a panic situation? A few people might not be able to; I think most people would.

    At least, if one innocent person has a gun, the others have a fighting chance to survive. Without that one person (or, ideally, several people) having a means of self defense, you might end up with, gosh, 33 defenseless people killed.

    Others suggest that guns and ammo should only be available to law enforcement and the military. A lot of good those folks did at VT. The typical police and military approach is to “secure the area” and then wait and see what happens. At both Columbine and VT, the police did nothing beyond securing the perimeter. The lunatics killed at will before finally, mercifully, killing themselves.

    The Swiss have microscopic rates of violent crime, despite having military style weapons in almost all households. But, some say, Americans aren’t as good as the Swiss. I disagree. In rural America, where gun ownership in very common, crime rates are very low. The highest rates of violent crime are precisely in areas where gun control is strictest: Washington and New York, for example.

    In the case of VT, there was perfect, one hundred percent gun control; that is, no one was allowed to have guns except the (useless) police. That is, all victims were disarmed and unable to defend themselves. How can further disarmament be a solution to this?

  4. Mark Pogue

    April 23, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    What is the purpose behind handgun use, besides killing other humans?
    The “right to keep and bear arms” does not specify what types of “arms”.
    Rifles, shotguns, crossbows, bows, slingshots, pepperspray, dogs, alarm systems, and knives aren’t enough to make you “feel safe”???

    http://www.prouddemocrats.net

    http://wrestofthestory.com/

  5. BangStick

    April 23, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    VT had 40 campus police. Assume they make $30k a year. That’s $1,200,000 a year in salary, not including benefits. Response time = 5-20 mins. That wasn’t enough to defend those students!

    Some say add more security guards. VT has 25 buildings, assume $25k salary for guards. That’s $625,000 plus benefits plus overtime. IF the lone security guard is taken out on the first shot = MONEY WASTED!

    Combined salarys = $1,825,000 + benefits + overtime + liability insurance = TOO MUCH MONEY!!

    Meanwhile, allowing people to exercise thier constitutional right to bear arms costs the school $0. Liability for the school = $0! If only 2% of the campus population of 25,000 carries a weapon, that’s 500 people that could take action to defend. Response time = 0-60 secs.

    500 potential security guards at a cost of ZERO dollars vs a few security guards at enormous cost with no guarantees.

    The look on the killer’s face when his intended victims shoot back = PRICELESS!

    Think about it!

  6. yarply

    April 23, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    Kennesaw, GA’s
    Mandatory Gun Law
    A Proven Success

    11-6-99
    The New American magazine reminds us that March 25th marked the 16th anniversary of Kennesaw, Georgia’s ordinance requiring heads of households (with certain exceptions) to keep at least one firearm in their homes.

    The city’s population grew from around 5,000 in 1980 to 13,000 by 1996 (latest available estimate). Yet there have been only three murders: two with knives (1984 and 1987) and one with a firearm (1997).

    “After the law went into effect in 1982, crime against persons plummeted 74 percent compared to 1981, and fell another 45 percent in 1983 compared to 1982. And it has stayed impressively low. In addition to nearly non-existent homicide (murders have averaged a mere 0.19 per year), the annual number of armed robberies, residential burglaries, commercial burglaries, and rapes have averaged, respectively, 1.69, 31.63, 19.75, and 2.00 through 1998.”

    With all the attention that has been heaped upon the lawful possession of firearms lately, you would think that a city that requires gun ownership would be the center of a media feeding frenzy. It isn’t. The fact is I can’t remember a major media outlet even mentioning Kennesaw. Can you? The reason is obvious. Kennesaw proves that the presence of firearms actually improves safety and security. This is not the message that the media want us to hear. They want us to believe that guns are evil and are the cause of violence. The facts tell a different story.

    What is even more interesting about Kennesaw is that the city’s crime rate decreased with the simple knowledge that the entire community was armed.

    The bad guys didn’t force the residents to prove it. Just knowing that residents were armed prompted them to move on to easier targets. Most criminals don’t have a death wish. There have been two occasions in my own family when the presence of a handgun averted potential disaster. In both instances the gun was never aimed at a person and no shot was fired. Yet, in both cases the thugs bent on criminal mischief decided to take their ambitions elsewhere and my family remained safe. Only God knows what would have happened if a firearm had not been handy.

    Yes, there are times when gun accidents occur. There are many more accidents involving automobiles, airplanes, bathroom shower stalls and backyard swimming pools, however. And let’s not forget that freedom is risky business. Freedom allows people to make mistakes recognizing that the alternative is worse.

    A local newspaper columnist recently said that other nations are free without possessing firearms. He fails to see the obvious fact that people who are not free to own firearms are not free. Many people live their entire lives and never know a day of real freedom. And, while I’m sure that there are those who would choose to live without freedom, there are some of us who would rather die free than live enslaved.

  7. Mark Pogue

    April 23, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    There are two simple reasons why the VA Tech massacre happened:

    1. A crazed vengeful person with psychological problems.

    2. Legally bought handguns.

    The legally purchased handguns could have been avoided.

    Not many people can forecast what a crazed vengeful person will do.

    http://www.prouddemocrats.net

    http://wrestofthestory.com/

  8. CheckerboardStrangler

    April 23, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Simple enforcement of already existing laws goes a long long way toward preventing unqualified people from purchasing firearms legally but please remember it does nothing to stop a homicidal maniac who is hell bent toward purgatory here on earth.

    Closing the loopholes and standardizing the criteria that defines a legal firearms sale is the root cause and effect we must study.

    Cho could have just as easily walked into the hood and picked up all the armament and ammo he needed without ID, without a background check and what’s more he would still be able to do so just as easily ten years after a comprehensive all out gun ban is enacted and enforced. A law can only define the circumstances and consequences that surround criminal behavior. Laws cannot guarantee safety and security.

    Only a healthy society can take the necessary steps toward lessening the incidences of violence like the VT tragedy.

  9. SEAL

    April 24, 2007 at 2:19 am

    No more talk of gun control. You could pass all the laws in the world, even ban guns completely, and people who wanted them would still find a way to get them. We have enough laws already. besides, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. We need to address the issues that make people want to kill. The social conditions that create the atmosphere of fear and needing guns for protection.

    There have been a lot of good points made about the failings of the university and its staff that contributed to this event. Other than that, the argument has been about the one thing that will never solve the problem – gun control.

    I have more guns than anyone who has posted and I have killed so many people in my lifetime I have no idea the number. I always have a gun on me. Killing was my business for 32 years. Do I scare you? Probably not. I’m a professional, you say. But what if I have nightmares and go off the deep end? Think of the carnage I could cause. The point is it is up to those close to me to read the signs and act accordingly. That was not done in Cho’s case. That is how you prevent. Banning guns wouldn’t have stopped him. It was he who killed, not the guns and ammo he bought. It was the failure of those close to Cho to act responsibly that killed. They could have had him committed. I think all states have the laws for relatives to commit for evaluation those they can show the court are dangerous. Based upon what we know of the evidence, it was the failure of the school to remove Cho from the campus that killed – not the guns.

    Please, lets stop arguing about that which did not cause the deaths and come up with better methods to prevent that which does cause these type of deaths. The people.

  10. miscusi

    April 24, 2007 at 4:01 am

    training may be cool. but should NOT be a prerequieste to ownership.

  11. miscusi

    April 24, 2007 at 4:10 am

    IF they got rid of the school gun zone thing, I would carry in the school zone. Alot of people think you are arming ALL the students which is a stupid thought. It isnt going to be a wild western movie.

    not everyone wants to be armed, not everyone has the ability to be armed. Guns and practice costs money. There are people opposed to weapons of any sort.

    Once the gun free zone is demolished, there will be a FEW armed CCW permit holders around.

    by default those who choose to be CCW permit holders happens to be well trained and law abiding. They shoot as a hobby and all that, you are NOT arming drunken immature students.

    a FEW licensed CCW around is all it takes to take down the crazyman before he shot 32 to death.

    Laws are not the answer, criminals dont obey laws. Laws do not work.

  12. Sandy Price

    April 24, 2007 at 6:35 am

    I have lived in the mountains and deserts of every one of my residences. I’ve tangled with wild dogs, coyotes, wolves, rattlesnakes and drugged out hippies. My security has always involved a large well-trained dog.

    I moved to a city 5 years ago and tend to read the local papers and found much more danger here than in the mountains. I had control in the mountains by making it well known that I was armed!

    Part of the problem here in Arizona is not the open illegal aliens but the fear of them. All my neighbors are armed to the teeth and I personally doubt they are smart enough to make the judgment of who to shoot.

    We have had a lot of breaking and entering in my area and I need to know that I can defend myself especially now that I live alone.

    To try and demand an accurate data base for gun checking is absolutely impossible. It will also build the ultimate Big Daddy to know who of us has weapons. I say leave it up to the States or Counties to try to control the problems. Hell, they can’t even handle an address change.

    Americans must be able to protect themselves and stop looking to the government to do it. We saw how well the government responded to Katrina. Someone mentioned the book 1984 and it should be recommended reading for all Americans. We must stand together as individuals not sheep.

  13. April-May

    May 6, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    The Second Amendment is a Ciceronian model of a periodic sentence. Don’t run to your dictionary. I’ll summarize here. Cicero was a Greek rhetorician who advocated an “elevated” and formal style of ornate language. The Founding Fathers were Classically trained scholars and saw fit to draft the Bill of Rights in the Ciceronian style rather than the more direct and less florid Senecan style.

    A periodic sentence is a syntax composed of dependent clauses which are supported and resolved by a terminal independent clause.

    The Founders would have appreciated the larger metaphor of dependence being resolved by a final statement of independence: “The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    More importantly, the Founding Fathers appreciated the fundamental property distinctions between the Napoleanic Code and English Common Law.

    The Napoleanic Code holds that “the king” owns the land, owns the property, and owns the lives of his subjects. Significantly, Napoleanic Code holds that “the king” owns the guns.

    English Common Law in contrast holds that “the people” own their property, their lives, their liberty, and that these rights are God given.

    From The Declaration of Independence:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

    “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” derives from John Locke’s ideal of the right to “Life, Liberty, and Property.” — an allusion to the tenets of English Common Law and the rights of the people to ownership, as contrasted to the Napoleanic Code which confers those rights to “the king.”

    And so let is note here that the rights of the “People” as conferred in the Second Amendment, affords that their keeping and bearing arms “shall not be infringed” — because the guns belong to “the People” and not to “the king, or to “the govt.”

    It is the right of the people to keep and bear arms which ensures that the “militia” — in Revolutionary times this meant any “state army” — be “well regulated” (“of the People, by the People and for the People”) and that it be “well regulated by the “consent of the governed” — “the People” This because a militia that is well regulated by the consent of the govened is “necessary to the security of a free state.”

    The government doesn’t own the guns. The PEOPLE own the guns.

    When we come to the point in the USA where the government owns the guns, we come to a time in the USA where “the people” need to fear the tyranny of their government.

    Hamilton and Jefferson wrote about tyranny of the government and its regulation by the consent of the governed in “The Federalist.” Adams, Madison, Franklin, Washington and others offer comments on this idea.

    The government belongs to the people and the guns belong to the people. Because the people must have an uninfringed right to keep and bear arms in order to well regulate the government’s militia, as it is necessary to the security of a free state.

    ———————-

    As regards armed students at drunken, rowdy campus parties. Let me assure you that drunken, rowdy student parties take place OFF CAMPUS and assuredly students who are legally permitted to carry concealed handguns are free to attend these “drunken debauches.”

    No rash of shootings has precipitated from off campus drunken parties where students may be armed.

    Utah, and some other states, Tennessee, I think Texas, Oregon and others, allow students with permits to carry firearms on campus.

    There are no dire headlines about student shootings in these states which afford students their Constitutional civil liberties.

    When we disarm campuses we may as well post a sign at the gate:

    “We’ve systematically disarmed our community. We’re defenseless. Come get us.”

    An armed student may not have stopped Cho. But a campus which affords students their Constitutional right to armed self-defense may not have appeared to Cho and others like him who shoot up schools as a defensless target of opportunity.

    An armed populace not only serves as a defense. An armed populace also serves as a deterrent.

    ———————————————
    NRA Distinguished Life Member

  14. matchstick

    May 6, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Requiring a license to own a gun only makes sense in an ivory tower. Proactive laws like gun licensing and registration compromise individual rights and freedom. You can’t regulate every aspect of human life, people need to be free to live it themselves. If they break the law, then punish them… but you don’t decide who gets to have the ability to defend their home, family and self and who doesn’t.

    Guns aren’t so dangerous that we need to regulate safety training by the government either. There’s plenty of effort by private organization to help educate everyone on gun safety. Cars however are that dangerous. And even with mandatory safety training and licensing and registration people still die at a staggering pace compared to gun related deaths.

    Using statistics from 2002, all accidental deaths made up 4.4% of all deaths. Car related accidental deaths made up 44.3% of all accidental deaths while firearms made up 0.8% of all accidental deaths. So, 44.3% of 4.4% is 1.94%. Death related to a car accident accounted for 1.94% of all deaths.

    Death by homicide regardless of whether a gun was used accounted for 0.7%, if we add the .03% of overall deaths caused by firearm accidents (0.8% of 4.4%) then you have a whopping 0.73% of all deaths caused by either homicide in using ANY means or an accidental gun death vs 1.94% of accidental car deaths.

    If you’re almost three times more likely to be killed by a car than you are to be murdered in any way or accidentally shot, is it really that dangerous?

    If you want to restrict something dangerous, get rid of the horrible drivers, having a car isn’t a constitutionally guaranteed right and it’s far more lethal.

    http://www.benbest.com/lifeext/causes.html#data_usa

  15. April-May

    May 6, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    And the First Amendment only applies to quil pens and letterpress, right? No satellite TV, no computers . . .

    I have about three dozen, probably more, handguns, rifles, military arms, and a small cannon. I have hundreds of knives — really lethal tactical stuff.

    None of them have ever killed anything in my hands.

    ———————————————
    NRA Distinguished Life Member

  16. April-May

    May 6, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    All these shootings seem to take place in “gun free zones.” Nobody ever shoots up a police station or a military base, not ever.

    ———————————————
    NRA Distinguished Life Member

  17. Hoggy

    April 23, 2007 at 8:20 am

    As a gun owner(I have more than a few as well) we of all people should understand that of course there should be more regulation of who and how to obtain firearms. We should be part of that processes, not fighting it tooth and nail. More and more people are making it difficult through their sick F*%^&ing actions with guns, for us to keep repeting the same old lines on gun ownership. If we don’t become part of the process of sensible regulation(obviously the laws on the books need help or need to be scrapped) it will one day be out of our hands and we will ALL lose.

  18. Paolo

    April 23, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Doug, you’re right almost all the time. But not this time.

    You said that Virginia’s half day course in gun safety and target practice does not prepare people for emergency situations.

    True enough. But that just demonstrates that law-abiding people who get concealed carry permits should also have such training. If you carry a gun, you should have a good idea of how to react in a panic situation.

    On the other hand, what is there to know about how to react if you have a lunatic who has chained the exits and starts shooting innocent people? If you have a gun, the obvious way to react is to shoot the bastard. This does not require deep strategic thinking.

    You say campus police would be worried about students, who often get drunk, having weapons. Do students at military colleges not also get drunk from time to time? Don’t they also have access to weapons? Yet I don’t know of any drunken shootings there.

    The Swiss people are probably the best-armed people on earth; all adult Swiss are members of the militia, and are required to own military style weapons, which are kept in their homes. I’m sure the Swiss get drunk from time to time also, but the murder rates in Switzerland are among the lowest in the world.

    We don’t have anything to fear from level-headed, law-abiding citizens, even when they occasionally get drunk.

    We have everything to fear when law-abiding citizens are disarmed, and left at the mercy of the first nut-case who (of course) is not afraid to break the law.

    Virginia Tech was an example of perfect gun control: all guns were strictly banned. The one lunatic did not care about the rules. Thirty-two innocent people died, unable to defend themselves.

  19. eric

    April 23, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Being a recent enough (a few years) college graduate to still remember the behavior of many of the other students at school, I am absolutely against allowing everyone to carry guns on campus. If that had come about when I was on campus, I would have feared for my life every day.

    Furthermore, even with extra training (and how much is that, another half day? A full day? A week?) I would not trust other students in the situation you described. If someone came in and locked the doors and started firing, and someone else drew a gun to shoot the lunatic, I would give 50/50 odds that the next kid to turn around and draw would shoot the other innocent kid with the gun. So many people, especially kids, don’t think before they act in every other aspect of life…why do you think it is any different with guns?

  20. UpChukker

    April 23, 2007 at 10:44 am

    “If you have a gun, the obvious way to react is to shoot the bastard. This does not require deep strategic thinking.”

    It requires the “ability” to find your weapon, click the safety off, point and aim as the shooter as he is pulling off shots all over the room and at you, and the rest of the students are screaming their bloody heads off. You’re so cool Paolo. Had a lot of “training” under these conditions?

    “Do students at military colleges not also get drunk from time to time? Don’t they also have access to weapons? Yet I don’t know of any drunken shootings there.”

    They carry weapons, rifles with no shooting pins, small arms are generally prohibited. In all cases ammo is strictly regulated.

    Back on point Paolo, guns in the hands of everyone on campus would have doubled the killing numbers with half being innocent students which were thought to be the “killer”.

    The right way. If you’re going to have a NO GUNS area and it will be full of innocents intent on their classes, then have guards with ammo smelling dogs and metal detectors everywhere. Yes, the tuition would increase but we would not have a record killing spree!

  21. jarrodlombardo

    April 23, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Your reasoning can be extended. Assuming that every time after the first time, there is a 50% chance that another person will draw and fire at the previous shooter, killing them:
    2 killed 50% (“lunatic” and 1st defender)
    3 killed 25% (“lunatic,” 1st defender, 2nd defender)
    4 killed 12.5% (“lunatic, 1st, 2nd, 3rd)
    5 killed 6.25% (…)
    6 killed 3.125%
    7 killed 1.5625%
    8 killed 0.78125%

    The odds of a death toll of 33 (don’t forget the “lunatic”) are incredibly slim. A school shooting with fewer deaths is definitely preferable.

    –Jarrod

  22. Carl Nemo

    April 23, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Jarrod I must compliment you on a succinct explanation using probabilities…!
    Your’re either an options trader or a math savvy bookie… ;) Great post…Carl Nemo

    p.s. I’m a proponent for concealed carry with provisions for training not only in firearms handling, but the law concerning the use of deadly force.

  23. Older and Wiser

    April 23, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Older and Wiser
    I am a WWII vet from a time when a lot of civilian soldiers killed as many of the enemy as they could. When your life is on the line the ability to defend yourself is not far behind. There is little alternative. Police officers in Orange County, Calif. are given 72 hours of gun instruction. Adults who, at age 30 or so, have no criminal record are unlikely to become criminals. They can volunteer for status as adjunct deputized officers, be given the 72 hours of gun training, plus whatever additional training would be needed, and allowed to carry concealed dispersed in the population. Teachers should be allowed this option as well. More undercover full time police in the population does not necessarily mean more civilian gun death and would very likely make us feel safer. More deputized citizens with proper training and under police control should not result in a different outcome and could be an inexpensive way to increase safety from gun crime. Finally, students of all ages should be taught to run when confronted by an armed assailant. It is very difficult to hit a moving target. The alternative should not be to passively line up or lie down. It is better that some, at least, survive.

  24. Carl Nemo

    April 23, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Doug I understand your sentiments that something should be done, but I have to disagree concerning more laws etc. We have a population of 300 million citizens. Within a large population there’s always going to be statistical outliers; i.e., anomalous acts of murder and mayhem. Cho was a loose cannon on deck. I’ve read a number of articles concerning his profile and his disconcerting behavior over many months and years prior to this murderous act.Professors knew of his abberative behavior, so did college administrators, local police and he even had a hearing in front of a judge. His “family” no doubt new the kid was a few bolts short on his boiler plates, but failed to seriously address the issue.

    Just as the price of liberty is eternal vigilance quoting Jefferson, so to, is the maintenance our safety and lives within a community; i.e., vigilance concerning the situation in our “local tank” etc. . If anyone is to be held responsible for this it’s the VT school administrators and staff period! I’ve heard their apologias on TV and have read about them being concerned about Cho’s civil rights?! When a student goes to school it’s a privilege not a right. They are expected to perform to certain standards both academically and interpersonally with their fellow students and the staff. Levels of decorum should be mandated upon students. They need to get annual indoctrination concerning school policies, expectations that they report anomalous behavior to the staff and that they need to work together as a team to protect the integrity and safety of their school environment. They also need some guidelines what do to in the event of a crisis whether it’s a natural disaster, fire, or a shooting spree as in Cho’s case.

    High schools have fire drills so do many responsible American corporations, but I know for a fact that many colleges fall short in this area. During live TV coverage I noticed how many students were just gawking about rather than taking serious cover, laying flat. Evidently many if not most don’t realize that even a 22 caliber bullet can travel over a mile and still be lethal. They’ve watched so much TV and played so many video games that they think a shooting spree or even combat in Iraq is some type of “video” experience. They evidently don’t get it that the only cure for death is re-incarnation and not a rewind situation. You’d think someone with the police or sherriff’s department would be designated to addess this issue giving instructions via megaphone or their onboard public address systems that’s mounted in many squad cars; i.e., get down, lay flat, “do not” walk about etc.

    Our federal, state and local governments have demonstrated they are incapable of protecting us from tagedies and the aftermath of disasters from 9/11, hurricanes, and all the way down to Cho’s rampage prove so. The politicians love to pass laws though to massage the collective psyche’s of their brain-dead constituents who evidently trust that some silly law on the books will protect them; then go back to being asleep at the wheel of life. Only law-abiding citizens obey the law; criminals and wackos do not, get it?! People need to get it in their thick heads that when they go into a public environment they need to be in condition “yellow”; i.e, alert to their surroundings;i.e., their tank and the denizens that share this tank with them. This means you are looking about, assessing the situation. You pay attention to how others act and interact about you. Whether you are in school, the office, the store, the theater one needs to pay attention. Failing to do so might mean you’ll become a statistic.

    I say fie on more laws, fie on our politicians, fie on law enforcement and the courts in general. The only branch of public service in which I have total and absolute respect is our firefighters, and in many situations they need to be armed too, but they have their organizational reasons for not doing so.

    Several ideas that might work on an institutional basis whether it’s MIT, Harvard, VT or even podunk “U” is to have armed guards stationed throughout the campus. Yep it costs money, but they’d be there to respond. I’m not talking about fat-bellied, donut eating billy-bobs either, but to pay the freight and have professionals guarding students, hospital situations, office buildings both public and private. Any situation where a bunch of people are captive within a large structure or facility on a daily basis should have some measure of protection. Again, I’m not talking about the fat-bellied, unarmed guy checking passes at the door either. These guards would be psychologically screened and checked thorougly, again no minimum wage billy-bobs need be utilized for this level of security. They also need maintain some level of fitness and tested annually for such.

    Another idea is to provide wall mounted gun safes at strategic locations within organizations with key personnel trained in the use of a riot shotguns, not a handgun. Cho must have been practicing somewhere because his kill ratio was far too high for the casual handgunner. The reason the shotgun is a safer choice is it will be easier to have a successful hit if necessary with less of the handshake other issues that are associated with handguns. The shotguns would be police style pumps, loaded excluding one in the chamber meaning the first shotshell would have to be cycled into the chamber. If a crisis occurs those on the staff that are trained both male and female can open the gunsafe and make use of this “public safety device”; i.e., the shotgun if necessary. It would be no different than breaking the case for access to a fire extinguisher or firehose gear. With new technology lock and key arrangements could be dispensed with by the use of thumbprint or retinal scanning technology to open the arms case with battery backup for the scanning equipment in the event of a power failure. Needless to say regular routine maintenance and even drills would be performed concerning the use of these “safety shotguns”.

    In summation, real safety depends on all of us working together to protect each other from external threats, no different than maintaining our freedom in the face of aggressors be they foreign or domestic. Living safe and well is a full time job. Remember this folks the word is to be alert; i.e. … “condition yellow”…be safe!
    Carl Nemo **==

  25. Swift2

    April 23, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    This has been totally distorted by a group of right-wing anarchistic ideologues. There is no federal constitutional “right” to individual gun possession without the context of enlistment in the state-run militias. It has never, throughout our constitutional history, had that interpretation, until one thing dawned on the nation’s gun manufacturers: when we moved to the cities, there was less and less need for that nice deer rifle or bird gun, and gun ownership is still a shrinking market. Fewer and fewer households have guns. So the new, wacko interpretation of the second amendment is just an advertising slogan, and a right-wing rallying cry; a theology of the gun.

    I’d say that hunters should be accomodated, though the interests of wildlife preservation may modify that. We no longer need game to survive. Also, without direct reference to the constititution, you have the common-law right to self-defense. So keeping a revolver locked up in your house might be a good idea, though there are arguments against it.

    If you want a concealed carry weapon, I’d say it’s a good idea — if the person doing the carrying pays for the same training, and gets the same scrutity, that they get in state police academy, becoming an auxiliary of the state police who can be called on in a dire emergency. That way, you could be regarded as part of the “civilian police militia,” and I would trust such a person, who had been through scrutiny and lengthy training, to have a concealed weapon.

    But the very idea that “more guns equal less crime” is a crackpot idea that has no basis in reality. It’s a bad interpretation of the constitution that has gone on too long.

    I do think that forbidding gun ownership entirely is unconstitutional, but even if it wasn’t, I think it would be bad policy. But that doesn’t say that the federal government doesn’t have the duty to normalize gun laws all across the country — that’s it’s interstate commerce function — and to keep a registry of guns and gun owners.

    It’s interesting to me that the same people who get all paranoid about that most likely approve of the hideously-named “Patriot Act.”

  26. April-May

    May 6, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Read my commentary: “Political Theory and the Second Amendment”

    When the Second Amendment was written, the term “militia” referred to ANY government army. Militia is a Latin term for “military.” That’s a New Historical literary critical reading of the term “militia.”

    Legal scholars currently subscribe to the “insurrectionist view” of the meaning of the Second Amendment — that it affords the people the means of defense against a tyrannical government and its “militia” or armed forces.

    Yeah, as a matter of fact I teach critical theory and legal writing at the university. My spouse is an attorney. We’ve been known to research the Constitutional implications of the Bill of Rights with a New Historical critical fine-tooth comb.

    My colleagues and I have published in this field.

    “More Guns, Less Crime” is the title of a work by John R. Lott, University of Chicago, Dept. of Economics.

    Professor Lott’s work is derived from quantitative analysis, statistical models, and some hard interpretive data.

    You, on the other hand, are figuratively writing checks with your mouth here that your butt can’t cover.

    ———————————————
    NRA Distinguished Life Member

  27. Sandy Price

    April 23, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    Some boys never grow up to be responsible gun-carrying adults. I know some young teenage boys who work the farms and cattle ranches on many of the ranches in California. I would trust my life to them. Most of them attended CalPoly for agricultural and ranch training and not to get falling down drunk.

    I don’t know how I stand on this gun control problem and will have to wait for others to define their comments on the subject.

  28. Roadapple00

    April 23, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Let’s see if we can come up with some stricter gun laws to help control who can get guns in the first place.

    Cho was not a U.S. citizen. He was here on a green card. Under current law, he could legally purchase a gun.

    1. YOU MUST BE A CITIZEN OF THE U.S. TO PURCHASE A GUN.

    I have worked at several different positions that you have to prove you are a citizen first, why not when purchasing a gun? If a gun dealer sells a gun to a non-U.S. citizen, then that dealer should have his/her license revoked. Also, have gun dealers attend a mandatory seminar yearly to learn about new laws or changes to existing laws.

    2. BEFORE YOU CAN PURCHASE A GUN, YOU MUST ATTEND AN APPORVED COURSE OF TRAINING.

    There are several states that require anyone under the age of 18 to attend an approved driver-training course in order to get a drivers license. And, depending upon the state guidelines, you must have your drivers’ license renewed. Would something like that plus refresher courses help?

    3. YOU MUST BE A MINIMUM AGE TO PURCHASE A GUN.

    I can hear it now. “What about kids who live on farms or in the country who hunt?” I have no problem with that, but they too must attend an approved firearms safety class and an adult parent or guardian will be responsible for the kids’ actions. The same for competition shooting, kids just cannot own.

    Most of the tragedies occur in schools or by gang members. If the ownership age were set at 25, for example, most young people will be out of school and hopefully gang members will have gotten their lives together.

    These three measures will not totally keep guns out of young people hands, but it should slow things down some. I do not claim to have all the answers, just some ideas. Maybe some more things.

    4. BETTER BACKGROUND CHECKS
    5. FINGER PRINTING AT TIME OF PURCHASE
    6. NATIONAL CRIMINAL RECORDS DATA BASE CHECKING

    Like I said, these are not absolute, just some ideas.

  29. miscusi

    April 24, 2007 at 3:58 am

    dont be stupid. more laws do not help. Crazyman would just go to the black market for his guns for the massacre.

    Why do people think guns only come from gun shops ?

    where do the cocaine come from ?

  30. April-May

    May 6, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    1) You must be a citizen of the USA or a legal resident. Moreover, you must be a resident of the state in which the gun is sold. That means transfer of the handgun from out of state to a licensed FFL dealer in state — which Cho did.

    From the NRA web site:

    http://www.nraila.org/gunlaws/federalgunlaws.aspx?id=60

    Ineligible Persons

    The following classes of people are ineligible to possess, receive, ship, or transport firearms or ammunition:

    * Those convicted of crimes punishable by imprisonment for over one year, except state misdemeanors punishable by two years or less.
    * Fugitives from justice.
    * Unlawful users of certain depressant, narcotic, or stimulant drugs.
    * Those adjudicated as mental defectives or incompetents or those committed to any mental institution.
    * Illegal aliens.
    * Citizens who have renounced their citizenship.
    * Those persons dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces.
    * Persons less than 18 years of age for the purchase of a shotgun or rifle.
    * Persons less than 21 years of age for the purchase of a firearm that is other than a shotgun or rifle.
    * Persons subject to a court order that restrains such persons from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner.
    * Persons convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

    Persons under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year are ineligible to receive, transport, or ship any firearm or ammunition. Under limited conditions, relief from disability may be obtained from the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, or through a pardon, expungement, restoration of rights, or setting aside of a conviction.

    2) Requiring a “training course” to own a gun is a violation of the Second Amendment which states that the right of the people to keep and bear shall not be regulated by the government. When the govt. requires you to pass a “skills test” your rights have been infringed by the govt.

    The “people” regulate the govt. The govt. does not regulate the people. That’s “necessary to the security of a free state.”

    3) FEDERAL LAW requires that you be 18 yrs of age to own/possess a long-gun and 21 yrs of age to possess/own a handgun. Minors in possession of firearms without direct adult supervision are in violation of state and federal law — even down on the farm.

    4) Background checks use state and federal criminal databases. Where Cho slipped through is in “right to privacy” and “doctor/patient confidentiality” as regards mental health records. Cho had been declared dangerous by the courts, and that lacunae was an egregious FUBAR.

    5) Gun sales require fingerprinting.

    6) NICS — “National Instant Check System” uses background criminal data bases from state and federal criminal systems.

    ———————————————
    NRA Distinguished Life Member

  31. geyser

    April 23, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    Has Paolo ever shot someone? Has anybody that posted a comment or agrees, more guns are the answer?
    It is very easy to say, “I can shoot him” I wonder how many could actually squeeze the Trigger, knowing that person would be dead. It won’t matter what that person has already done, it will matter that you will be ending a persons life. That person will never breathe again, see again, hear, taste or feel again and it will be your doing. Can you go through with it?
    What I have said is the most important aspect to know, before we start putting guns into every students hand.
    It is total Madness to assume every student having a gun. The slightest argument has the potentialto end up with the use of a Body Bag. Those that advocate this and those that agree, have not given the idea enough thought.
    People mentioned the Swiss and Israel, we are not Swiss and Israel is on constant attack, we aren’t. It is mandatory in Israel that every man and womam serve two years in the military, they get the knowledge and training in the use of weapons, we don’t and last I checked it is not a requirement for our Teachers either. There are different cultures involved, different ways of life. To compare the way of life with each country, they are like Black and White. Speaking of Black and White, the racial tension in this country are too high, making guns easier to obtain, pure lunacy. Think about it.

    Taking One Day at a Time

  32. April-May

    May 6, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    We’re not talking about “putting guns in every student’s hand.” We’re talking about affording students their basic Constitutional civil liberties.

    Some of us are willing to be armed and exercise that right. Some of us are not — which is our option.

    But you’re asking that I forgo my Second Amendment right when I come on campus.

    ———————————————
    NRA Distinguished Life Member

  33. Wayne K Dolik

    April 23, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Ok Doug, maybe the Police on campuses should be disarmed as well, because they didn’t do a darn thing to stop the carnage. 32 people were killed over a two-hour period. Where were the local Police? At coffee break perhaps? How about campus police, where were they? Singing about the gun free zone! Why wasn’t the campus locked down? Why wasn’t the assailant attacked? Instead this assailant fired over 200 hundred rounds causing over 100 wounds, while many victims were shot multiple times. Where were the good guys in all of this?

    I am hearing several reports that there was a Federal Stand Down order. Were hearing it from the locals and EMT’s. Remember the Pet Goat? Remember John Kennedy. There needs to be a thorough investigation into how a world record was broken for murder on a college campus. If the Feds made local law enforcement Stand Down, these facts must be made public, because we just experienced another Katrina. But, this is America and I am sure that those in charge will find a way to sweep the dirty little secrets under the rug.

    What we needed on that day was a few brave men with a bolt cutter, but for some reason help was not coming that fateful day. Aggressive Police know how to break a door down. Had they put pressure on the Perp. lives would have been saved. I would get sick to my stomach to see all this carnage too. What was needed here was to untie local law enforcements hands, or, for the locals to tell the Feds to go to hell. Talk about gun laws if you want. This will go down in infamy as no swift response, just like Katrina and 911.

    Bottom line is, your government can’t protect you. Talk about Victim Control all you want.