24 April 2007

This blog thing and guns

Giving this blog thing a try.

One of the things of preeminence of late are the Virginia Tech shootings. My heart goes out to the families of those that were slain, and even those of the slayer. This event is probably a source of shame and hurt for them too.

Being a fairly pragmatic person, when I think about the situation, I think things like: "What could I have done?"

I'd like to think that I would have tried to tackle him or disarm him in some way. But, in truth, I will never know until I am faced with the situation (which I pray that I never am). I'd probably think about my lovely fiance and have second thoughts about doing something really dangerous for her sake.

Then I think maybe the perpetrator of the crime should have been somehow prevented in getting a gun. But he was of age. He didn't have any state-documented history of mental illness or any criminal record that would red-flag him. If he was prevented by law, then those same regulations would prevent many, many law-abiding citizens from getting guns. Even then, if he had a mind, he could still get a gun or make one. A friend of mine who is a police officer told me that he has confiscated home-made pistols on stops. It seems like tighter gun-control would only prevent those who follow the law from getting guns, not for those the law was designed to stop. I found this quote from Thomas Jefferson:

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
--Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria in On Crimes and Punishment (1764).

And this is exactly the people that the perpetrator of the VT slayings targeted. Those that he knew would be unable to fight back. You could devote police resources to patrolling schools as a solution. However, I think a better way is to let those professors that would and are legally able (and perhaps under some added college-created guidelines) to carry a concealed gun. Even those professors that might become perpetrators would be more reluctant when they realize the professor next door may stop them short. There is at least a better chance that the degree of such a horrific event could have been lessened.

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