I don’t know why, but one of the more suprising conclusions drawn from the shootings in Virginia (to me) is that there aren’t enough guns. The thought is that if there were just a couple students packing heat in school, they could have fought back. This shouldn’t have been a suprise… it’s a natural extention from the NRA’s widely repeated assertion that if guns were illegal, only criminals would have guns. What REALLY surprised me was a few suggestions by a few right wing-nuts that the Virginia Tech shootings also suggested a failing in our institutions of higher learning. No… not that security wasn’t high enough… or that they don’t allow guns on campus… but that they churn out a bunch of pacifist wimps.
O.K., now I’m just offended… and not just because I’m one of those pacifist wimps. This is classic blaming the victim, and it’s the most predictable weapon in the conservative arsenal. How is this any different from blaming a rape victim for their own assault because they were showing too much skin? Oh it’s different all right… the shooting victims are LESS to blame than the rape victim (just to be clear, I feel the rape victim has VERY, VERY, VERY little culpability – if any at all).
Based on the circumstances of the shooting, asking the students to rush the shooter wasn’t just asking them not to be a wimp… it’s tantamount to asking them to commit suicide. This article sums it up perfectly…
I may be ready to concede one point: if one of the students had a gun the shooter could have been stopped. There’s a BIG BUT in there somewhere. First, it ignores the possibility for much more gun violence with more guns floating around. I’ve always felt that guns do, in effect, kill people. It’s been my strong feeling that guns, in some circumstances, create a homicide where there wouldn’t have otherwise been one. A gun makes it extraordinarily easy to kill someone. Almost no effort is required. All it takes is aim and a twitch of a finger. But don’t just take my word for it, consider some research done by Harvard and the University of Chicago. It suggests that approximately 1 in 10 american men may display occasional outbursts of uncontrolled rage (three such outbursts per year and up). Imagine the guy at little league, foaming the mouth yelling at an umpire, with a concealed carry permit. Imagine the guy popping his top at a perceived slight in traffic, with Smith and Wesson riding shotgun.
There’s a site I stumbled across while I was researching this entry which keeps track of instances of gun voilence in America.
Most firearms aren’t purchased for the purpose of murdering a close friend or family member. It’s only in these times (short periods of time, according to the research), when extreme stress hits, that someone with access to a gun moves to use it.
Finally, you have the argument that Virginia Tech already had a strict gun control policy – which was ineffective – other than to keep students from bringing in their guns for protection. This argument falls short in that local gun restrictions are obviously futile. If all you need to do to get a gun is drive a couple miles – or order it from ebay, gun restrictions won’t work. This is an argument for broader, more sweeping restrictions – not fewer. Guns need to be harder to get everywhere, not just in a few towns or college campuses. Countries that have broader, universal restrictions on guns have less gun violence – period.
Personally, I feel handguns have one purpose: killing people. Their range and accuracy (relative to rifles) make them lousy for hunting in the woods. Their concealability and usefulness in tight quarters make them suitable for hunting one thing: people. Even if you buy one for self defense – and you’re properly trained to use it, you know that if you do use it, the objective can’t be to injure, maim or deter – but to kill.
Call me a pacifist wimp; I think they all handguns should be banned. I also believe the constitution makes this an unrealistic goal. That’s why I think the second amendment should be repealed. In modern times the second amendment has as much to do with liberty as the Civil War had to do with “states’ rights.” These days I don’t think we need guns to be free. If Vatican City organized a military and invaded the U.S., our gun toting citizenry would probabably be up to the task of defending life, liberty and the American way. To think a handgun would protect you from any other organized military (including our own) is ludicrous. In that case, we don’t need the right to keep and bear arms – we need body armor, tanks, artillary, jets, laser guided bombs, and a warship (for good measure). I’m also going to need a substantial raise, because I can barely afford a handgun.
Our constitution was not written to be perfect, or as a final draft. There were other screw ups and they were fixed. The original didn’t see African Americans as whole people, but we eventually got that right with the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.
Today we’re enslaved by our fear. We lock our doors against the gun toting horde waiting to walk in and gun us down. It’s a fear we can dismiss with bold action.
But I’m not holding my breath.