Time to rethink our gun laws

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.

Comments

  1. Razor

    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

    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

    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. BangStick

    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!

  5. yarply

    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.

  6. CheckerboardStrangler

    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.

  7. SEAL

    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.

  8. miscusi

    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.

  9. Sandy Price

    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.

  10. April-May

    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.

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    NRA Distinguished Life Member

  11. matchstick

    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

  12. April-May

    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.

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    NRA Distinguished Life Member

  13. April-May

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

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    NRA Distinguished Life Member